Army returning some land near Tokyo to Japan
By SETH ROBSON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 16, 2015
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — The U.S. Army recently returned some of the land it occupies near Tokyo to the Japanese government and plans to hand back more, U.S. officials say.
Maj. Gen. James C. Boozer told troops and civilians about the land transfers after handing command of U.S. Army Japan to Maj. Gen. Jim Pasquarette at Camp Zama last Wednesday.
U.S. Army Japan spokesman Kevin Toner confirmed the land return, which includes 42 acres at Sagami General Depot that were given back to Japan in October.
The U.S. and Japanese governments agreed to the return in 2006, Toner said Tuesday.
“Army family housing that had been at Sagami Depot will be reconstructed by (the Japanese government) at Sagamihara Housing Area,” he said. It’s up to the government to determine the land’s future use, he said.
Another 86 acres at Sagami Depot, which remains under U.S. control, has been earmarked for joint use by the U.S. and Japanese governments since 2012, Toner said. Twenty-four acres is available as a public park and 62 acres will be left as open space, he said.
“In the event of a regional contingency, U.S. forces retain the right to use all (86 acres) to support military operations in support of our obligations under the Mutual Security Treaty,” he said.
At Camp Zama — headquarters of U.S. Army Japan — the U.S. and Japanese governments agreed last year to allow construction of a hospital and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force housing on land slated to be returned to Japan, Toner said.
“The actual date of return will be established at a later time,” he said.
The land was part of the Chapel Hill residential area at Camp Zama. Army family housing that had been at Chapel Hill will be reconstructed by the Japanese government elsewhere on the post and at Sagamihara Housing Area, he said.
There have been calls for the return of other land occupied by U.S. forces in Japan, including thousands of acres on Okinawa slated to be vacated under a plan that would close Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and move some troops to Guam.
The U.S. Army has left a number of posts in South Korea and is preparing to return several other facilities, including most of Yongsan Garrison in Seoul, as it consolidates forces at Camp Humphreys.
The latest land returns demonstrate the U.S. government’s commitment to increasing the efficiency of U.S. bases while also acknowledging the desires of nearby communities, Toner said.
Construction continues on a future hospital at Camp Zama on July 15, 2015. The hospital is being built on land slated to be returned to Japan. The land was part of the Chapel Hill residential area on Camp Zama. Army family housing that had been on Chapel Hill will be reconstructed by the Japanese government elsewhere on the post.
TYLER HLAVAC/STARS AND STRIPES