Japan has decided to propose to Washington to relocate half of a controversial US military airbase away from the southern island of Okinawa, a report said Thursday, citing the top government spokesman.
The government had agreed on a plan to move 50 percent of the functions of the US Marines' Futenma airbase to several regions outside Okinawa, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano told senior ruling coalition officials, Jiji Press reported.
It gave no details of the alternative locations for the airbase away from the southernmost island.
Hirano also said Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada would meet with US ambassador John Roos Friday ahead of his visit to Washington on Sunday on his way to the Group of Eight foreign ministerial meeting in Canada, Jiji Press said.
The government of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, who came to power last year, has been reviewing a 2006 pact to relocate the Futenma airbase within Okinawa prefecture.
The 2006 agreement, signed by the previous conservative government and Washington, would move the base from a crowded residential district to a quieter coastal part of the island, despite opposition from local residents.
Hatoyama and his coalition partners have explored the possibility of scrapping the 2006 deal and moving the base off Okinawa but have met with repeated US refusals.
Hatoyama's junior coalition partner, the Social Democrats, has pushed for complete removal of the Futenma base from Okinawa, a tiny region which hosts more than half of some 47,000 US troops based in Japan.
Source: AFP Asian Edition