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Thursday, Aug. 11, 2005

Snap election to delay realignment report: Ono


Staff writer

Defense Agency chief Yoshinori Ono said Wednesday that a joint interim report on realignment of the U.S. military in Japan, initially expected to be compiled in September, will be delayed to October due to the House of Representatives election on Sept. 11.

"Because election campaigning will last about a month, I think it will be delayed to October, even though we hope to (compile the report) as soon as possible," Ono told a news conference.

He said he does not intend to postpone the yearend deadline to compile a final report on the realignment.

"We have to make an effort (to meet) the December deadline," he said. " I have not given up that yet."

Ono said he has conveyed Japan's intentions to the U.S. side. The interim report is expected to spell out details of what roles the Self-Defense Forces and the U.S. military in Japan will play in the defense of Japan and its surrounding areas.

It will further include details on how the U.S. intends to reorganize its forces, including a reported plan to move the headquarters of the U.S. Army's 1st Corps from Washington state to Camp Zama in Kanagawa Prefecture.

In addition, the two sides are reportedly contemplating moving the U.S. Navy's carrier-based aircraft from the Atsugi air station in Kanagawa to the U.S. Marine Corps Iwakuni Air Station in Yamaguchi Prefecture.

The government initially planned to contact local governments later this month or early next month to explain the realignment plan before the interim report would be disclosed. But that will also be delayed. A top Defense Agency official said the government will start explaining to local governments "immediately after the election."



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