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HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Oct. 17) - The United States and Japan have reached a basic agreement on relocating two U.S. military bases on the southern island of Okinawa, where the U.S. military presence has been a frequent focus of protests, a newspaper reported Sunday.

Under the accord, the United States will return to Japan port facilities at the Naha Naval Port in Naha and the Makiminato Service Area in Urasoe, the Yomiuri newspaper said, citing unidentified Japanese government sources.

The bases' functions will be consolidated with those at Camp Courtney, also on Okinawa, the report said.

Under the basic agreement reached by both sides, some of the units currently stationed at Makiminato would be moved to Guam. To speed the transfer, Japan may help fund the construction of new military facilities in Guam, the Yomiuri said.

Japan and the United States have been aiming to reach an agreement on where to relocate some of the nearly 20,000 Marines off the crowded island of Okinawa and close underused bases.

The Makiminato Service Area is a supply base, on about 274 hectares in Urasoe city, used by logistical units of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force.

Officials from Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo's office said she is scheduled to return to Washington, D.C., today and will try to confirm the media report with Department of Defense officials.

Lt. Arwen Chisholm, Navy spokeswoman on Guam, referred all questions referring to changes in ports and stations to the Pacific command Public Affairs office in Hawaii. Officials there could not be reached yesterday because of the time difference.

Lee Webber, chairman of the Guam Chamber of Commerce Armed Forces Committee and publisher of the Pacific Daily News, said if this story is accurate, it is good news for Guam.

"However, until we hear something confirmed by U.S. forces or the Department of Defense, it is very difficult to comment any further."

Last week, the Yomiuri newspaper reported that the headquarters of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force could be relocated from Camp Courtney, Okinawa, to Guam, in order to reduce the burden of U.S. troops in Okinawa.

The realignment is part of the Pentagon's push to streamline its overseas bases and create a leaner, more flexible military. But the repositioning in Japan is also meant to ease tensions caused by the U.S. military presence.

October 17, 2005

Pacific Daily News http://www.guampd.com

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