Japan agreed to pay a third of the cost of pulling thousands of US Marines out of Okinawa on the sidelines of a meeting aimed at reinforcing the two nations defense alliance.
Tokyo agreed to shoulder up to $3.1 billion of the projected $8.6 billion cost of relocating the Marines to Guam from Okinawa.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and their Japanese counterparts, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera signed the protocol amending the 2009 Guam International Agreement.
The agreement provides a framework for reducing the US’ heavy military presence in Okinawa, which has created tension with the local government and residents.
The protocol also affirmed the US government “shall favourably consider requests by the government of Japan to use training areas in Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.”
Around half of the 47,000 US service personnel in Japan are based on Okinawa, strategically located near Taiwan.
The move is due to begin in the early 2020s, and is seen as a wider rebalancing of US military assets in the region under President Barack Obama’s policy of “pivoting towards Asia.”
During the meeting in Tokyo, dubbed “2+2”, the two countries also pledged to rewrite their guidelines for security cooperation, including rotational deployments of US Global Hawk reconnaissance drones to Japan, and deployments of missile-defense radar systems across the country.
By: Maesie Bertumen
Image of F-15 at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa: Arctic Warrior/Flickr