- The Washington Times - Friday, June 29, 2001

ITOMAN, Japan (AP) — Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi says he wants to "lighten the burden" on residents of Okinawa who resent the heavy U.S. military presence on the island.
At a ceremony here honoring troops from both sides who died in the 1945 Battle of Okinawa at the end of World War II, Mr. Koizumi said he was considering steps that would reduce U.S. troops and move an airport and training exercises to other locations.
"My Cabinet views this as a major issue," he told 5,000 people Saturday at Peace Memorial Park. "We are doing our utmost to find ways to lighten the burden on the people of Okinawa."
A recent series of crimes and embarrassing remarks by U.S. troops and officers stationed here has triggered resentment toward American forces. Mr. Koizumi is expected to ask President Bush about military cutbacks when they meet at Camp David tomorrow.
Last week, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell reportedly told Japanese Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka that the United States would keep only the minimum number of troops in Japan needed to ensure security in Asia.
Okinawa, 1,000 miles southwest of Tokyo, hosts about half of the 47,000 U.S. military troops stationed in Japan.
It was the site of the final land battle between U.S. and Japanese troops in the closing months of World War II. A quarter million people died, including at least 12,500 Americans and roughly one-third of the 450,000 civilians on the island.



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