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Under a deal negotiated with the U.S., Tokyo agreed to foot part of the bill to move 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to a new base in Guam by 2014, easing overcrowding on the Japanese island that hosts more than half of the 50,000 American troops stationed in the country. About 10,000 Marines will remain.
Another key issue he'll have to address is a long-delayed plan to relocate Okinawa's Futenma Marine Corps Air Station to a new location.
Washington has already tried to head off any attempts by the new government to re-negotiate the terms of the agreements.
"The United States has no intention to re-negotiate the Futenma replacement facility plan or Guam relocation with the government of Japan," State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said Monday.
The challenge comes amid concerns over Hatoyama's inexperience in foreign affairs and worries that his desire for more balanced relations with Washington and deeper ties with Asian neighbors could open a rift between the old allies.
Those have largely been fueled by an op-ed published in The New York Times ahead of Sunday's election, in which he suggested that Japan had suffered under U.S.-led globalization.