The United States returned on Tuesday to Japan a 51-hectare housing area of the U.S. ‘ Camp Zukeran in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, under the April 2013 bilateral agreement to reduce the burden of U.S. bases on Okinawa.
The event represents the second U.S. land return to Japan under the agreement, following the handover of a 1-hectare path at the Makiminato Service Area in August 2013.
“We will try to realize the next base return as early as possible,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said in a press conference in Tokyo. “We will reduce the burden in a visible manner.”
Even after Tuesday’s housing area return, however, Okinawa still hosts 73.8 percent of the total acreage of U.S. military facilities in Japan, prefectural officials said.
The Japan-U.S. agreement also envisages returning the 481-hectare the U.S. ‘ Futenma Air Station in Ginowan to Japan in fiscal 2022 or later if a replacement facility is built at the Henoko area in Nago. But there are no prospects for the return at present amid stiff local opposition to the base replacement plan.
Ginowan city and the prefecture plan to develop the housing area into an international medical base, including a heavy particle radiotherapy facility for cancer treatment, and the medical faculty and hospital of the University of the Ryukyus.
A prefectural senior high school, an urban park and housing will also be developed there.
But the facilities’ completion is expected to take more than 10 years as the Japanese central government must check if there are unexploded shells or soil contamination at the area.
Japan Economic Newswire