(Okinawa Times: December 22, 2015 – p. 3)
Visiting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel said on Dec. 21 that the relocation of the U.S. Marines Corps’ Futenma air station to the Henoko district in Nago is “the only viable option” and emphasized the U.S. commitment to promoting the existing plan.
Russel also indicated his expectations that the partial return of Futenma lands in advance, announced by Tokyo and Washington on Dec. 4, will give momentum to the relocation plan.
The high-ranking U.S. official responded to an interview with the Kyodo News Agency held in Tokyo.
With the term of the current administration led by President Barack Obama coming to an end in less than a year, Russel declared that the U.S. government wants to make 2016 a year for Japan and the U.S. to make a big leap in their bilateral ties.
On the possibility of President Obama visiting Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he only mentioned “No decision has yet to be made.”
Russel noted that the partial return of Futenma lands in advance proves that it is possible to “strike a balance between the security necessity and legitimate requests made by local communities” and expressed his stance to fully support the Japanese government’s initiative.