Tags: Obama | Japan | troops | trip

Obama To Face Japanese Furor Over U.S. Troops On Asia Trip

Tuesday, 10 November 2009 11:02 PM

TOKYO - President Barack Obama says he expects Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama to honor an agreement on American troops in Japan as the two countries work to keep the issue from overshadowing this week’s summit.

Hatoyama took office two months ago having pledged to alter a 2006 accord that would relocate the Futenma Air Base within the island of Okinawa, host to more than half of the 47,000 U.S. troops stationed in Japan. His Democratic Party of Japan wants to move the facility off the island in response to local complaints about pollution, noise and crime.

Obama, in an interview yesterday with NHK Television, said Japan should keep to the agreement. The two countries later agreed to create a cabinet-level working group to resolve the dispute, which threatens to delay a $10.3 billion plan to ease Okinawa’s burden by moving 8,000 Marines to Guam.

Both sides “will try to de-focus the issue by postponing a final decision,” former Japanese ambassador to the U.S. Shunji Yanai said in an interview. “Under the present circumstances, there’s no other choice. The issue will not be resolved during President Obama’s visit and that will increase the frustration on the U.S. side.”

The leaders will meet in Tokyo on Nov. 13 to discuss the war in Afghanistan, climate change and North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. It will be their second summit since Hatoyama, citing Obama’s call for change as his inspiration, cast out the party that had governed Japan more half a century.

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Tuesday, 10 November 2009 11:02 PM
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