Small protest held outside Zama against realignment plan
About 30 people from a Japanese group called the Extensive National Coalition For The Independence, Peace and Democracy demonstrated outside Camp Zama’s Gate No. 1 on Monday against force realignment recommendations and the continued presence of U.S. troops in Japan.
The march, which took place just after noon, lasted about 15 minutes and was staged without incident.
In a grievance letter addressed to Maj. Gen. Elbert N. Perkins, the U.S. Army Japan commander, the organization outlined its objections to the long-rumored move of I Corps headquarters in Washington state to Camp Zama and opposition to the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, the U.S. military base’s strength and reinforcement of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force there. It also called for removal of all U.S. military forces in Japan.
“We are aware that local citizens and local leadership has some concerns about proposed force realignment actions in Japan,” said Sgt. 1st Class N. Maxfield, a U.S. Army Japan spokesman.
“The U.S. presence in Japan is essential to the stability of the entire region. We have always worked with our good allies, the Japanese, to help ensure the safety and security of Japan and the region. We hope that in time the government of Japan will work with local officials to help the local citizens understand how important U.S. forces in Japan are.”
Shortly after an interim report detailing realignment recommendations for U.S. bases in Japan was released last month, a U.S. Army Japan spokeswoman and Japanese officials said relocation of the Fort Lewis, Wash.-based I Corps was not part of the proposal. No specific unit was identified in the bilateral document.
However, a senior Defense Department official had earlier told Stars and Stripes that an I Corps shift to Camp Zama is part of the realignment plan and would affect about 3,000 personnel.