Okinawa 1988-1991

Okinawa 1988-1991

Friday, July 01, 2005

US Ambassador talks of reducing base burden on Okinawa

 The U.S. ambassador to Japan, Thomas Schieffer, has visited Okinawa for the first time since he presented his credentials in Tokyo in April 2005. He met journalists from the Ryukyu Shimpo and the other local newspaper on June 17 at the U.S. Consulate General in Urasoe City.
 Regarding consolidation and realignment of the U.S. Forces and reduction of the base burden on Okinawa, the ambassador expressed his understanding that Washington was willing to reduce the pressure to meet Okinawan expectations.
 'If we don't erase some of the footprints of the U.S. Forces, the problem will only become more serious in the future. Both Tokyo and Washington are producing creative ideas and they share many common objectives. I believe that we will achieve a satisfactory result,' said Schieffer.
 On the other hand, he also pointed out that main-taining a deterrent capability against terrorism is a further objective of the realignment exercise. He reiterated the need to strengthen the bilateral alliance through reinforced cooperation between the SDF and US Forces.
 As for the revision of SOFA, he implied that Washington will consider a review if Tokyo makes some proposals.
 However, he did not state clearly whether Washington would consider its own way of dealing with the revision issue.
 'The current version of SOFA has been operating for a long time. But changed circumstances come to the fore as time goes by. We are ready to listen to any constructive ideas,' said Schieffer."


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