U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, released the following statement after Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced the United States and Japan have agreed on a new plan to consolidate U.S. forces in Okinawa. The development will help facilitate implementation of the strategic rebalance of American forces in the Asia-Pacific region, resulting in the move of approximately 9,000 U.S. Marines to Hawaii and Guam.
"I am pleased to see progress on this plan, especially as we continue to cope with the economic uncertainty that comes with sequestration," said Hanabusa. "Secretary Hagel's announcement reaffirms the United States' commitment to the Asia-Pacific rebalance, and the vital strategic role Hawaii will play in the future of our military. This agreement keeps things moving forward by identifying actions that can be taken now to help return land back to Japan, instead of waiting for the Futenma Replacement Facility to be completed.
"As our nation adjusts its defense strategy for the 21st century, Hawaii looks forward to welcoming these Marines and their families to our communities, as well as the business and benefits this realignment in forces will bring to our local economy. I would like to say Mahalo to Secretary Hagel and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for their continued leadership in overseeing this critical plan."
Defense officials estimate the relocation of Marines from Okinawa to Guam will be completed by 2020, with the relocation of Marines to Hawaii being completed by 2026. The U.S. will return approximately more than 2,400 acres of land to Japan and Okinawa once the plan is fully implemented.