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Kennedy works to ease fears over base in Okinawa

Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and Governor Hirokazu Nakaima exchanged autographed balls before their talk.
AFP/Getty Images
Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and Governor Hirokazu Nakaima exchanged autographed balls before their talk.

NAHA, Japan — US Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, making her first visit to Okinawa in hopes of winning support for a US military base relocation plan, pledged Wednesday that Washington would do its best to reduce the burden of its heavy troop presence there.

‘‘The United States is committed to working with you and the government of Japan to make that happen as rapidly as possible,’’ Kennedy told local leaders at a reception hosted by the US consul general.

During talks earlier Wednesday, Okinawa’s governor, Hirokazu Nakaima, expressed hopes they could work together on problems related to the US bases.

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‘‘There are various problems and tasks such as crimes, accidents as well as environmental issues,’’ he said. ‘‘We would like to seek and urge your help so as to resolve the issue fundamentally and to reduce our burden of having US bases.’’

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Kennedy visited a peace park and offered flowers at a mausoleum that honors people who died in heavy fighting near the end of World War II.

The US government wants to relocate an American military base to the Henoko district of Nago.

The plan is backed by Nakaima, but many people on Okinawa want the base moved off the island.

Associated Press