US to remove soldiers from Okinawa
The Japanese have protested crimes perpetrated by US military personnel stationed on Okinawa for years.
The US and Japan sign an accord ordering the relocation of 8,000 US soldiers from the Japanese island of Okinawa to Guam by 2014.
Under the agreement, signed by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her Japanese counterpart, Hirofumi Nakasone, the US has agreed to reduce the number of its Marines stationed on the island.
"Our security alliance with Japan, 50 years old next year, has been, and must remain, unshakable. In Tokyo, I will sign the Guam International Agreement, which will position our security alliance to meet the challenges of this time by moving 8,000 American troops from Okinawa to Guam," Clinton told the Asia Society in New York on Friday.
Under the agreement, Japan will provide $6.09 billion of the estimated $10.3 billion cost for the transfer of US soldiers and for the building of housing and other infrastructure on the Pacific island of Guam -- a US territory.
About 50,000 US troops are based in Japan under the 50-year-old security agreement; 22,000 of them are stationed on the southern island of Okinawa, giving rise to tension between troops and local residents.
The people of Japan have protested for years about crimes perpetrated by US military personnel stationed on Japanese islands, including Okinawa.
Public anger has increased because of several incidents in recent years, including the alleged rape of a 14-year-old girl by a US Marine on Okinawa.
Okinawa governor Hirokazu Nakaima had recently met Pentagon officials and discussed changing the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the two countries to ensure that all service members charged with crimes are immediately turned over to the Japanese police.
Under the existing SOFA agreement, Japanese police keep members of the US military in custody only if the individual is arrested off base.
In addition, the governors of 14 of Japan's 47 prefectures that host US Marines recently asked the Japanese government to start the process of assessing the SOFA, which was last revised in 1960.
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