US base will not leave Okinawa

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The Independent Online

Japan's Prime Minister said yesterday that it will be impossible to move all parts of a US Marine base out of Okinawa, risking a political backlash by breaking past promises to relocate the facility off the island.

It was the first time since Yukio Hatoyama became Prime Minister in September that he officially acknowledged that at least part of Futenma US Marine Corps air base would remain in Okinawa. It hosts more than half the 47,000 US troops based in Japan.

The admission is likely further to dent Mr Hatoyama's popularity, which has steadily declined since he took office with a pledge to re-examine Japan's relationship with the US. Mr Hatoyama had frozen a 2006 agreement with the US on moving Futenma to the island's north.

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