Hagel thanks Japanese counterpart for Futenma efforts
WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel today thanked Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera for the Japanese government's efforts in securing approval of the landfill permit request to build a replacement facility at Camp Schwab-Henoko Bay for Marine Corps Air Station Futenma on the Japanese island of Okinawa.
In a statement summarizing the telephone conversation between the two defense leaders, Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby, Pentagon press secretary, called the new facility "a critical part of the realignment of U.S. forces on Okinawa."
Hagel also noted the importance of the recent agreement by the United States and Japan to negotiate a framework to supplement the status of forces agreement on environmental matters, Kirby said.
In addition, the press secretary said, Hagel and Onodera discussed the implementation of several initiatives announced in October, including the deployment of a second TPY-2 missile defense radar to Japan and the launch of a forward-looking revision of the U.S.-Japan Defense Guidelines, in which the two nations agreed on the importance of a transparent process.
"Secretary Hagel underscored the importance of Japan taking steps to improve relations with its neighbors, and to promote cooperation in advancing the shared goals of regional peace and stability," Kirby said. "Secretary Hagel said he looked forward to continued bilateral discussions on strengthening the alliance to meet the security challenges of the 21st century."