TOKYO — Officials in Yokohama, home to the U.S. Navy’s Ikego housing area, have suggested that the number of planned housing units be reduced and that additional U.S. military facilities should be returned to Japan.

Yokohama City Mayor Hiroshi Nakada met with Defense Agency Chief Shigeru Ishiba on Thursday and suggested the return of the U.S. Navy’s Koshiba fuel storage facility and all of the Kamiseya communications facility when expanding Ikego. He also suggested a reduction in the number of housing units from the 800 currently planned, Nakada added in a statement.

The Japanese and U.S. governments agreed to build 800 additional housing units on the Yokohama side of Ikego in July 2003 to replace the housing lost when four Navy facilities — Tomioka storage area, Negishi housing area, Fukaya communications facility and part of Kamiseya, in Yokohama — are returned to Japanese control.

Ikego, near Yokosuka Naval Base in Kanagawa Prefecture, is comprised of 717 acres in Zushi and Yokohama cities.

Nakada has said that adding housing units at Ikego should be a separate issue from the return of the facilities. He believes the facilities should be returned unconditionally when they’re no longer used by the U.S. military.

However, the government claims the issues should be handled together, he said, and that it’s possible to carry out the plan without an approval from Yokohama.

“I would like to suggest a new proposal representing Yokohama City … as the best solution to a realistic approach for the residents and the people of Kanazawa Ward since the claims made by the government are impossible to accept,” Nakada stated. Ikego is located in Kanazawa Ward of Yokohama.

However, the Japanese government is not optimistic about Nakada’s proposal.

Zushi City Mayor Kazuyoshi Nagashima said last week he will seek a legal decision if the government does not call off plans to build additional housing at Ikego housing area.

The city claims the government is breaking a promise made in 1994 by the government and Kanagawa prefecture not to build additional facilities. However, the government said the additional housing will be built on the Yokohama side of the housing area, and thus is not breaking the promise.

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Hana Kusumoto is a reporter/translator who has been covering local authorities in Japan since 2002. She was born in Nagoya, Japan, and lived in Australia and Illinois growing up. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and previously worked for the Christian Science Monitor’s Tokyo bureau.

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