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Japanese city rejects US Marine base plan-Kyodo

By Staff
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TOKYO, Mar 12 (Reuters) A majority of voters in a referendum in the Japanese city of Iwakuni today rejected a plan to bring more planes and troops to a nearby US Marine base, Kyodo news agency said, an outcome that complicates broader talks on relocating US forces throughout Japan.

The result of the southwestern Japanese city's referendum is not binding, but a ''No'' vote is a headache for both Tokyo and Washington. The two sides are trying to wrap up by the end of March a sweeping plan to reorganise the nearly 50,000 US forces in Japan, including how much Tokyo should pay to move some 7,000 Marines from the southern island of Okinawa to Guam.

Kyodo cited its own projections for the result.

Voters were asked whether they supported or rejected a plan to transfer 57 carrier-based planes and about 1,600 military personnel from Atsugi naval base near Tokyo -- where locals have long complained of flight noise -- to Iwakuni, already home to more than 3,000 Marines and 57 US aircraft.

REUTERS CH KN1837

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