US agrees to return Japanese land, limit new housing in Ikego
By ERIK SLAVIN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 27, 2014
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — U.S. Forces Japan will return two properties to Japan and trim the number of new housing units planned for the Navy’s Ikego housing area, Japanese and U.S. military officials said Wednesday.
The turnover of the Fukaya and Kamiseya communications sites — which comprise nearly 800 acres of land — was first agreed upon in 2004.
The 2004 agreement also included the return of the Navy’s Negishi housing area and represented the largest planned return of mainland Japanese property since the 1970s. However, the agreement stalled, in part because of failed municipal lawsuits that attempted to block new housing construction at Ikego, which was also part of the 2004 agreement.
This week, the two governments announced that Fukaya would be turned over by June 30, while the Kamiseya site will be handed over by June 2016.
Both sites, located in Kanagawa Prefecture, were used only for storage and training, Naval Air Facility Atsugi spokesman Greg Kuntz said Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the U.S. now plans to build 171 housing units — down from 385 — on its property at Ikego, a defense ministry spokesman said.
A Japanese ministry of defense spokesman told Stars and Stripes that the U.S. side proposed the reduction to 171 units out of concerns that more units would cause too much congestion at Ikego, which is located about four miles from Yokosuka Naval Base.The two governments did not announce a handover date for Negishi, a property in Yokohama where hundreds of Navy personnel live. However, Navy officials have been placing fewer families assigned to Yokosuka in the area. The area’s only school, Byrd Elementary, will close at the end of the current school year.
Stars and Stripes reporters Seth Robson and Hana Kusumoto contributed to this report.