Barack Obama

Hatoyama, Obama to talk on Futenma Air Base: report

(Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama will speak with President Barack Obama over the phone Thursday to discuss relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station, the Kyodo news agency said.

Hatoyama and Obama’s talks will revolve around relocating the air station, which is in Okinawa Prefecture, to a coastal zone of the Marines’ Camp Schwab, also in the prefecture, the news agency said.

Ahead of the talks, the two governments may release a joint statement centering on agreements to build a replacement facility for the airfield in the Henoko district in Nago and reach a decision on the relocation plan by September, the news agency said it learned from Japan-U.S. diplomatic sources.

The two countries had initially planned to release the joint statement Friday but will likely bring it forward to Thursday when the top-level talks are planned, the Kyodo said.

Hatoyama will also attend a National Governors’ Association meeting Thursday afternoon in an attempt to seek local support by emphasizing that part of the Futenma helicopter units will be moved to outside Okinawa, the news agency said.

On Sunday, he sought local support for the plan to keep the U.S. Marine airbase on Okinawa, but the governor of the island said accepting the plan was tough.

Hatoyama is expected to explain that a part of F-15 fighter training, currently based at the U.S. Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, will be transferred to the Air Self-Defense Force base outside of the prefecture, the Kyodo said.

But the U.S. side has accepted the Japanese request to mention considering the island as a candidate location on condition that supply and repair facilities and troop shelter will be set up, the news agency said.

Under the joint document, the two countries will also agree not to delay the procedure for a current environmental assessment being conducted under the 2006 deal, the Kyodo said.

Reporting by Vinay Sarawagi in Bangalore; Editing by Roshni Menon