Japan's leader in U-turn on US base

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The Independent Online

The embattled Prime Minister, Yukio Hatoyama, has apologised to the people of Okinawa for ditching a campaign promise to move a US military base off the island. The concession is likely to further erode his grip on power.

He had promised to relocate US Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station away from Okinawa, perhaps even out of Japan.

But he has recently said that his government plans to build another base on the island, but in a coastal area less crowded than the residential zone where Futenma is now located. Okinawa residents have long complained about noise and jet-crash dangers, and say they fear crime resulting from the presence of more than half of the 47,000 US troops in Japan, who are stationed there under a bilateral defence alliance. Washington has insisted Japan keep its side of the deal.