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TOKYO — Several Kanto Plain bases are canceling or modifying their annual open-base cherry blossom festivals, citing force-protection issues and personnel safety.

There has been no specific threat, said Brian Naranjo, a spokesman for Naval Air Facility Atsugi and Naval Support Facility Kamiseya. But “thinking from the aspect of force protection,” he said, “we thought it would be a prudent move to not hold the festival this year because of world events.”

Annual open-base cherry blossom festivals at Camp Zama and Yokota Air Base also were canceled. Yokosuka Naval Base is staging a closed-base festival.

Camp Zama’s showcase, scheduled for April 5, was canceled March 20. Traditionally, it’s been one of the Army base’s three major open-post events. Asked about the decision to cancel this year’s festival, Maj. Randy Cephus, U.S. Army Japan spokesman, said, “It is the command’s responsibility to ensure the safety of its personnel and facilities.”

Yokosuka Naval Base’s festival takes place Saturday, but only as an internal event. The base’s public affairs office said ongoing world events prompted the change. Officials said they hope to resume the open-base festivals next year.

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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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