Tags: obama | japan | base | marines

Obama Bows To Japan On Disputed Marine Base

Friday, 13 Nov 2009 11:19 AM


TOKYO — President Obama, seeking to mend fences with Japan, America’s most important Asian ally, announced on Friday that he would establish a high-level working group on the contentious issue of the continuing presence of a Marine base in Okinawa.

The decision, announced at a news conference just a few hours after he touched down in Tokyo to begin his first presidential trip to Asia, appears to represent a concession by the Obama administration to at least consider Japan’s concerns.

It comes less than a month after Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates seemed to shut the door on renegotiating a deal reached in 2006 to relocate the United States Marine air base in Futenma to a less populated part of the island.

Mr. Obama’s visit comes at a time when the two allies are grappling with recent shifts in their overall relationship and Japan’s newly elected prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, searches for a more “equal partnership.”

On Friday, both leaders emphasized the importance of the relationship, and stressed that the two sides were seeing eye to eye. Standing beside Mr. Obama at the Japanese equivalent of the White House, the Kantei, Mr. Hatoyama said, “We’ve come to call each other Barack and Yukio, and gotten quite accustomed to calling each other by our names.”

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2009-19-13
Friday, 13 Nov 2009 11:19 AM
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