TOKYO, March 31 (UPI) — President Barack Obama expressed his concern over the delay in the relocation of a U.S. military base in Japan to Prime Minister Abe, Kyodo News reported.
There have been plans for the relocation of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to a more remote location in Okinawa, Japan’s southernmost island.
The United States and Japan have been trying for 20 years to move the air base, currently situated in a densely populated area known as Ginowan.
The plan is to relocate the base to the more sparsely populated Henoko coast, but many residents of Okinawa want the U.S. bases removed entirely.
In November, the governor of Okinawa Takeshi Onaga refused to let work continue on the relocation project. Residents who associate American presence with accidents and crime supported his decision at the time.
The project has been stalled, and during a nuclear security summit in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Obama reportedly told Abe it was difficult to understand why the Japanese leader agreed to suspend construction at the new military facility in Henoko.
Obama requested cooperation on the matter to which Abe agreed, according to Koichi Hagiuda, Tokyo’s deputy chief cabinet secretary.
During the summit, Obama and Abe, along with South Korean President Park Geun-hye, agreed to defend against North Korean provocations.
“The international community must remain united in the face of North Korea’s continued provocations, including its recent nuclear test and missile launches. The additional sanctions recently imposed on Pyongyang by the United Nations Security Council show that violations have consequences,” President Obama wrote in The Washington Post Thursday.