U.S. not to renegotiate Futemma relocation plan with Japan

The United States will not renegotiate the planned transfer of U.S. Marine Corps' Futemma Air Station in Ginowan to the shores of Camp Schwab in Nago, both in Japan's Okinawa Prefecture, the State Department said Monday.

''The United States has no intention to renegotiate the Futemma replacement facility plan or Guam relocation with the government of Japan,'' department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters.

The remarks came a day after the opposition Democratic Party of Japan won a crushing general election victory. The party has said it will aim to relocate the air base outside Okinawa Prefecture, despite a 2006 Japan-U.S. accord on the transfer of the facility within the prefecture.

The plan to relocate the air base is part of an agreement the United States and Japan struck in May 2006 to reduce the burden on local residents of hosting the U.S. military in their communities.

Transferring the Futemma's heliport functions is closely tied to another key element of the agreement -- moving 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam.

Separately, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the Japan-U.S. alliance relationship will continue even if the DPJ-led Japanese government is formed.

''We believe that we have always had a strong relationship and that that relationship will continue, regardless of what Japanese government is in power,'' he said.

During the election campaign, the DPJ promised to define what roles Japan and the United States should each play after developing an ''autonomous'' diplomatic strategy, so that Tokyo can build a ''close and equal'' bilateral alliance.

DPJ President Yukio Hatoyama, most likely the next Japanese prime minister, has said he needs to build confidence with U.S. President Barack Obama before embarking on issues standing between the two nations, such as the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan and a possible revision to the status of forces agreement.

(Distributed by Kyodo News on August 31, 2009)