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JAPAN PM SCRAPS PLAN TO MOVE US BASE FROM OKINAWA

By NBF News
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Japan's Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has said it will not be feasible to entirely remove a controversial US base from the island of Okinawa.

The US Marines' Futenma is deeply unpopular with Japanese and removing it had been a key election pledge of Mr Hatoyama's.

But on a visit to the island, Mr Hatoyama said “realistically speaking, it is impossible” to fully relocate it.

The base is home to more than half the 47,000 American troops based in Japan.

“I really feel sorry as I visit here today that I must ask for the Okinawan people's understanding that part of the base operations would have to stay,” the AFP news agency quoted Mr Hatoyama as saying.

Mr Hatoyama, who had promised to resolve the issue by the end of May, was speaking on his first visit to Okinawa since becoming prime minister.

“We must ask the people of Okinawa to share the burden,” he said.

The row over the base has undermined relations between Japan's centre-left government and the US.