US-Japan mull Marine base plans at security talks

By MATTHEW PENNINGTON | June 21, 2011 | 3:15 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Top U.S. and Japanese officials are meeting Tuesday to discuss how to salvage costly plans to relocate a U.S. Marine air station on Okinawa that face opposition in both countries.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates and their Japanese counterparts are expected to announce a postponement in the relocation of the Futenma air station, which was due for completion by 2014.

Japan was not been able to win local assent for the plans, formalized in a 2006 agreement, although they are designed to reduce the U.S. military footprint on Okinawa, which hosts more than half of the 47,000 American troops in Japan.

Under the agreement, Marine air operations would be shifted to a less crowded part of the island.