Military base deal eludes Clinton, Okada in Hawaii

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets with Japan's Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada to discuss U.S. military bases in Okinawa during her stopover in Kapolei, Hawaii, January 12, 2010. REUTERS/Hugh Gentry

HONOLULU (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada failed to reach a deal on Tuesday on a dispute over a U.S. military base, but pledged not to let it derail the broader relationship.

Barack Obama |  Japan

Clinton, after an 80-minute discussion with Okada in Hawaii, said she had again urged Tokyo to follow through on a deal to relocate the Marines’ Futenma base on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa, but allowed that this could take time to fully resolve.

“This is an issue that we view as very important,” Clinton told a news briefing. “But we are also working on so many other aspects of the global challenges that we face and we are going to continue to do that.”

Okada repeated that the government of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama had pledged to make a final decision about Futenma by May, and remained committed to the broader U.S.-Japan security pact, which marks its 50th anniversary this year.

“We will come up with a conclusion by May so that there will be minimum impact on the Japan-U.S. alliance,” Okada said through a translator.

U.S. officials say relocating Futenma to a less crowded part of Okinawa — rather than off the island as many residents demand — is an important part of a broader realignment of U.S. forces amid China’s rising power and uncertainties over North Korea.

(Reporting by Andrew Quinn; Editing by Eric Walsh)

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