28 Dec 2013

US to move base in Japan

6:16 am on 28 December 2013

Japan has approved the relocation of a US military airbase on its southern island of Okinawa.

Governor Hirokazu Nakaima has agreed to landfill work to develop a new base in a less densely populated part of the island.

The agreement is a breakthrough following years of deadlock over where a new base should be placed.

The US has around 26,000 troops on Okinawa under a long-standing security alliance with Japan.

But the bases are unpopular locally and there is growing pressure from residents for the US military footprint to be reduced.

The US Futenma airbase will now be relocated to a new site near Nago, a less densely populated area in the North of the island.

The move comes after years of negotiations. In 1996, Japan and the US agreed to close the Futenma airbase.

But Okinawa's local government had been opposed to building a new base on the coast.

Some critics have demanded that the US airbase move out of Okinawa prefecture completely and the decision has already prompted furious reactions.