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TOKYO — About 128 acres of the Army’s Sagami Depot, part of Camp Zama, will be returned or partially returned to Japanese control after negotiations between Japanese and U.S. diplomats, the Japanese defense chief told the mayor of the city hosting the depot.

The plan is expected to be finalized in the final report on the realignment of U.S. military in Japan, a defense official said Friday.

Officials at U.S. Forces Japan said Friday they couldn’t speculate on the return since the final realignment report has not been announced.

Defense Agency Director General Fukushiro Nukaga briefed Sagamihara Mayor Isao Ogawa on Tuesday on the ongoing realignment talks, according to a city news release.

Nukaga told Ogawa that the base’s current housing area — about 37 acres — will be returned after the housing units are relocated to Sagamihara Housing Area, another Camp Zama satellite, according to the release. No dates have been decided for the move.

Another five acres of a north-south tract of land dissecting the west side of the base will be returned to Japan to build a road and railroad tracks, the release said. In the past, the city has appealed strongly for the land to extend the Odakyu train line to Sagamihara station south of the depot.

Another 86 acres to the west of the future railroad tracks will be returned for joint use by local residents and the Army, according to the city. The area would fulfill the Army’s requirement to maintain an open space to potentially erect a field hospital in an emergency, Army public affairs officials have said. The area could be a park, for example, that could be converted to emergency use by the Army or Japanese authorities if ever needed.

“I accept partial return and joint use of Sagami Depot to be a step forward,” Ogawa stated. However, he asked Nukaga to continue to urge a full return of the base.

Nukaga also told the mayor an additional 300 soldiers will move to Camp Zama when a new Army headquarters is established there, the news release stated. The interim agreement on the transformation, signed in October, indicated a new Army headquarters would move to Camp Zama from the United States. No details about it were provided.

Support facilities for the new headquarters will be upgraded at Sagami Depot, including a training center, motor pool and vehicle maintenance facilities. The new soldiers will be housed at the Sagamihara Housing Area, according to the release.

A new Japan Ground Self-Defense Force command headquarters also will be established at Camp Zama, which should bring an additional 300 JGSDF personnel to the facility, the release said.

Stars and Stripes reporter Juliana Gittler contributed to this report.

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