YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — The U.S. Navy and the City of Yokosuka signed a document Friday that binds the two bodies together in case of an emergency.

The Memorandum of Understanding of Mutual Assistance was developed earlier this month in multi-party talks about the incoming USS George Washington aircraft carrier, according to a Navy press release.

The memorandum includes in its definition of disaster “any calamity originating from a warship or a nuclear powered warship.” The USS George Washington, scheduled to arrive in summer 2008, will be the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to be forward-deployed to Yokosuka Naval Base.

The memorandum is the first of its kind and generally lays the groundwork of “who will do what when” in the case of a disaster, said Commander Naval Forces Japan spokesman Cmdr. David Waterman.

“It covers disasters of any kind, with a penchant towards natural disasters,” Waterman said, including earthquakes, typhoons and industrial accidents. The actual logistical details will be nailed down in a subdocument that will be developed in the future, he said.

During Friday’s signing ceremony, Mayor Ryoichi Kabaya said the document brought “closure to a longstanding issue” on the city’s 100th anniversary, according to city public safety division official, Kazuaki Onuki.

The document was also signed by CNFJ commander Rear Adm. James D. Kelly and base commander Capt. Greg Cornish.

“We look forward to continuing these efforts as we develop detailed coordination procedures in the coming months,” said Kelly in a press release statement. “This agreement goes a long way towards the realization of a comprehensive disaster response effort that will benefit both the residents of Yokosuka and the U.S. Navy.”

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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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