An upcoming interim agreement on the realignment of the U.S. military will lead to a reduction in the number of American troops in Okinawa and the rest of Japan, U.S. Ambassador Thomas Schieffer said Friday. Schieffer said he couldn't release details of the plan, to be announced on Saturday in Washington, but that it would reduce the footprint of the U.S. military in Okinawa. The island hosts most of the 50,000 U.S. troops in Japan.
"Both governments expressed a desire to reduce the number of troops that are stationed in Okinawa and in Japan, and I think you're going to see an agreement that reduces in numbers," Schieffer told reporters at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will meet their Japanese counterparts, Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura and defense chief Yoshinori Ono, in Washington on Saturday.
The meeting follows an agreement earlier this week that settled a dispute over the relocation of a Marines Corps air station in Okinawa.
Japanese media have also reported that the U.S. will move some 4,000 Marines off the southern island to other bases in Japan and the U.S. territory of Guam, but U.S. officials have not confirmed those numbers, reports the AP. I.L.
An explosion of household gas occurred in a nine-storeyed apartment building in the city of Shakhty, the Rostov region of Russia. The blast destroyed two storeys of the building