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The Japanese city hosting U.S. Navy’s Ikego housing area may file a lawsuit against the Japanese government if the government does not retract the plan to expand the housing area.

Zushi City Mayor Kazuyoshi Nagashima submitted a letter addressed to Defense Facilities Administration Agency Director General Shoei Yamanaka on Tuesday stating the city will seek a legal decision if the government does not call off the plans or respond by Aug. 23, the city base affairs official said.

“We are in the situation where we have no choice but to take legal action and seek legal decision in order to solve this problem,” the letter stated, adding that Zushi residents are concerned about the destruction of greenery in Ikego if additional housing is built.

The Japanese government announced in July 2003 its plan to build 800 additional housing units at Ikego, which will replace the housing lost when four Navy facilities in Yokohama are returned to Japanese control.

Ikego, near Yokosuka Naval Base in Kanagawa Prefecture, comprises 717 acres of land lying in Zushi and Yokohama cities.

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

“The mayor at the time … said the agreement on housing construction was made including the area in Yokohama city,” the official said.

In the past year, Nagashima has submitted letters requesting Japanese government officials as well as U.S. officials call off the plan. Nagashima met with Defense Agency Chief Shigeru Ishiba last month and was told the plan could be called off.

Nagashima resigned as the mayor in August 2003, after the government’s announcement to expand Ikego. He sought a voter mandate in opposition of the construction plans in the subsequent mayoral election and won.

A DFAA spokesman confirmed receiving Nagashima’s letter but declined to comment.

If the city decides to take legal action against the government, it will need approval by the city assembly, the official said.

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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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