by Bruce Klingner
The Heritage Foundation
December 18, 2013
Long-overdue progress on relocating a U.S. Marine Corps air station within Okinawa hinges on a forthcoming decision by the island’s governor. Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima is poised to decide whether to issue a land reclamation permit to enable construction on the Futenma Replacement Facility (FRF). Local opposition has long stymied efforts to implement the now nearly two-decade-old bilateral U.S.–Japan security agreement. Washington should make clear to Tokyo that the time for endless delay is past. The Obama Administration should call upon Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to go beyond mere words of support and instead begin to fulfill Tokyo’s commitments. Although the U.S. has repeatedly compromised alliance military capabilities to overcome Okinawan protests, Tokyo has dragged its feet on taking steps to allow the base’s construction. For the Marines to be an effective deterrent and defense force, they must retain combined arms capabilities on Okinawa, including air units at the FRF.

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