McCain hails move of Okinawa base

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Friday hailed the decision by Okinawa’s local government to allow a U.S. military base on that island to move.

McCain said the decision was a “major achievement” for the U.S.-Japan alliance, and one that Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe and his administration deserve much credit.

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The decision paves the way for the base to be moved to a different part of Okinawa and breaks a long stalemate. The U.S. and Japan had agreed to move the base, but the local Okinawa government had objected, arguing the new location already had a significant U.S. military presence.

There have long been tensions between local residents of Okinawa and the U.S. military. Those tensions were fueled by crimes committed by people from the base, most notably the rape of a 12-year-old girl by three U.S. military personnel in 1995.

The move is intended as part of the U.S. pivot to Asia, and McCain said it would be important for Congress and the Pentagon to work together to ensure the realignment of U.S. forces in the Asia-Pacific region go forward.

McCain also said it would be important that the move be budget conscious.

“It is also essential, in this time 
of constrained resources and increased scrutiny on spending, that the cost
 estimates for this realignment be responsible and strictly adhered to over the 
years ahead,” he said.

McCain called the U.S.-Japan alliance the foundation of the U.S. commitment to peace, prosperity and freedom in the region.