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The United States and Japan announced on Friday an agreement for the return to Japan of a U.S. air base, taking a step to resolving an issue that has vexed ties when both countries face a belligerent North Korea and a rising China.

The U.S. Marines’ Futenma air base on Okinawa island will be returned to Japan as early as 2022 if a planned relocation within the island is carried out.

By unveiling the deal, which includes time frames for the return of all or part of five other U.S. military facilities on the southern Japanese island, Japan and the United States aim to send a message that their alliance is on a solid footing.

“With the security environment in the Asia-Pacific region getting tougher, I’m glad that we were able to show that the bond of trust in the Japan-U.S. alliance is not wavering at all,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters.

Read more at Reuters

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