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Yokohama City wants U.S. Navy housing and other facilities outside Yokosuka Naval Base within its community returned unconditionally to the Japanese government.

In an inquiry filed Thursday with the Yokohama Defense Facilities Administration Bureau, the city sought clarification on the Japanese federal government’s position for return of four naval facilities: Fukaya and Kamiseya communications sites, Tomioka storage area and Negishi housing area.

“In regard to return of U.S. forces facilities, the city believes they should be returned unconditionally,” the inquiry said.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy has a tentative agreement with the Japanese government to expand its Ikego housing area. Japanese officials have said Ikego expansion should mean returning Negishi, the communications sites and other areas.

The city said Thursday the issues should be discussed separately.

Cmdr. John Wallach, a Commander, Naval Forces Japan spokesman at Yokosuka Naval Base, declined to comment Friday on the inquiry.

“Since the inquiry was submitted from the city of Yokohama to the Yokohama Defense Facilities Advisory Board, it would not be appropriate for us to comment,” Wallach said. “There is a shortfall of on-base housing for Navy personnel stationed in Japan, particularly on the Kanto Plain. One of our top priorities is reducing that shortfall.”

Yokohama filed the inquiry in response to the bureau’s July request seeking the city’s position on a tentative exchange agreement between the United States and Japan.

“The city would like to use your response as a reference to study the matter request by your bureau,” city Administration Bureau Director Kojiro Otani said in the inquiry.

Otani also asked how much influence the city position would have on the planned exchange.

The inquiry sought the government’s recognition on the city’s stance as well as asking for the reasons why additional housing is necessary.

According to a Defense Facilities Administration Agency report, the governments agreed housing should be centralized at Ikego.

U.S. and Japanese officials say having housing centralized at Ikego would be more convenient for commuters because it’s closer to Yokosuka. It would also be more efficient for housing management.

A Defense Facilities Administration Bureau spokeswoman confirmed receipt of the inquiry.

“We have accepted it sincerely,” she said Friday, pointing out that the bureau will respond in writing. “We hope to respond as quickly as possibly.”

Ikego lies in Yokohama and Zushi cities.

Zushi voters go to the polls Sunday to elect a new mayor.

Former mayor Kazuyoshi Nagashima, 36, resigned last month in protest of Ikego housing expansion. He is seeking re-election on an anti-expansion platform.

Nagashima is being challenged by former school board chairman and doctor Teruko Ikegami, 64. She is also opposed to expansion of Ikego.

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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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