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Guam says can't take US airbase at centre of Japan row

by Staff Writers
Hagatna, Guam (AFP) Dec 10, 2009
The governor of US-administered Guam said his Pacific island would be unable to provide a new home for a US airbase at the centre of a row between Washington and Japan.

As part of a 2006 pact between Tokyo and Washington, 8,000 troops will be moved from Japan to Guam by 2014 but Japan's new government also wants to take another look at the future of the Okinawa island Marine Corps airbase.

Guam Governor Felix P. Camacho told reporters late Wednesday the island did not have the capacity to provide a new home for the Futenma airbase as well.

"We are already challenged with the present numbers of the relocation of 8,000 Marines, and moving the entire Futenma base would not be possible due to our limited resources and capacity," the governor added.

Speaking during a visit by Japanese defence minister Toshimi Kitazawa to Guam, Camacho said he was confident the stand-off between Washington and Tokyo would be resolved.

Japan and the US are at loggerheads over where to relocate the Okinawa airbase, which was due to be moved from a city area to a coastal region under the 2006 agreement.

Since coming to power in September, Tokyo's new centre-left government under Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has angered US officials by announcing a review of the pact.

Hatoyama has left open the possibility of moving the base off the island or even out of the country.

Kitazawa told a press briefing in Guam Wednesday that no decisions had been made on the airbase but Camacho later said Guam's interests had to be taken into account.

"Guam's resources and the welfare of our community must be kept in mind," he said.

Japan's foreign minister Katsuya Okada said Tuesday that US-Japanese talks on resolving the airbase row have been put on hold until Tokyo clarified its position.

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