JGSDF to use Camp Hansen for training
CAMP FOSTER — Marines on Camp Hansen soon will share their training facilities with the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force.
Three local communities surrounding the Marine Corps installation Tuesday announced they would accept a U.S.-Japan pact that allows the JGSDF to conduct training at the base.
Shared use of Camp Hansen was agreed upon in May 2006 between the United States and Japan as part of realignment of U.S. Forces Japan. On mainland Japan, the governments agreed to move the headquarters of the GSDF Central Readiness Forces to Camp Zama and Air Defense Command to Yokota Air Base.
The Roadmap for Realignment Implementation states that “Camp Hansen will be used for Ground SDF training. Shared use that requires no facility improvements will be possible from 2006.”
Camp Hansen’s three neighboring municipalities, Kin, Ginoza and Onna, however, had opposed the change, claiming that additional training would have a negative impact on the living environment of residents.
Japan’s Diet passed an incentive bill this past May, enabling the government to provide subsidies to local municipalities that agree to new military facilities and training. And on Oct. 31, Tokyo announced plans to eliminate Kin, Ginoza and Onna from the subsidy recipient list.
“After weighing the subsidies with expected increase of the burden, we figured that it would come out even,” Kin Mayor Tsuyoshi Gibu was quoted as saying by Kiichi Higa, chief of Kin Town’s Planning Office.
During a hurriedly arranged joint news conference Tuesday, the mayors of Kin, Ginoza and Onna explained that one of the major reasons for accepting GSDF training was the financial support they expect from the government for a new consolidated fire department headquarters facility that the three communities needed badly, Higa said.
“We came up with an impression that the burden would not be as bad as we had initially anticipated after reviewing the details of training given by the Ministry of Defense,” Gibu was quoted as saying.
Akira Kamata, director of the Okinawa Defense Bureau of the Ministry of Defense, welcomed the three mayors’ decision.
“Joint use of Camp Hansen will contribute to improving the training environment for the Ground Self-Defense Force and enhancing the ability of the troops to ensure safety for people on Okinawa in a time of disaster,” Kamata said in a released statement.
The Ministry of Defense said Wednesday it would revoke its earlier decision and include the three Okinawan communities on the recipient list.
Kamata said GSDF training on Camp Hansen includes rappelling, tactical marches, small-arms shooting and disposal of unexploded ordnance. Marine Corps representatives were not immediately available Wednesday for comment. A spokesman for GSDF Naha, meanwhile, said it was premature for the GSDF to make any comment.