U.S. Military Presence in Okinawa and the Futenma Base Controversy [August 14, 2014]   [open pdf - 654KB]

"In 2006, as part of a broad realignment of U.S. basing in Japan, the United States and Japan agreed to relocate Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma to a less-congested area on Okinawa and then redeploy 8,000 marines to U.S. bases in Guam. The arrangement was designed to reduce the local community's burden of hosting a loud air base that has generated safety concerns and, eventually, to return control of the Futenma land to local authorities as a way to boost economic development in the area. The controversy surrounding relocation of MCAS Futenma has overshadowed progress in other elements of the realignment of U.S. Forces Japan. Facing delays in relocating the Futenma base, in 2012 the United States and Japan agreed to 'delink' the replacement facility with the transfer of marines to Guam. The current plan is to relocate 9,000 marines (and their dependents) from Okinawa, deploying 5,000 to Guam, 2,500 to Australia on a rotational basis, and 1,500 to Hawaii as soon as the receiving facilities are ready. [...] A U.S.-Japan joint planning document in April 2013 indicated that the new base at Henoko would be completed no earlier than 2022. Despite this progress, many challenges remain to implementation. Most Okinawans oppose the construction of a new U.S. base for a mix of political, environmental, and quality-of-life reasons. Okinawan anti-base civic groups may take extreme measures to prevent construction of the facility at Henoko. Any heavy-handed actions by Tokyo or Washington could lead to stridently anti-base politicians making gains in Okinawa, particularly in the gubernatorial election scheduled for November 2014. Meanwhile, the Futenma base remains in operation, raising fears that an accident might further inflame Okinawan opposition."

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CRS Report for Congress, R42645
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