Guam relocation reaffirmed
THE United States and Japan unveiled a plan over the weekend to move forward the return of land being used by the U.S. military to “the people of Okinawa and Japan,” while ensuring “a robust and operationally effective U.S. presence in the region,” according to a statement from Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.
When the U.S.-Japan Okinawa Consolidation Plan is fully implemented, it will result in the return of about 1,000 hectares of land, according to Hagel’s statement.
“Together, our plan calls for the immediate return – upon completion of certain necessary procedures – of certain facilities and areas in Okinawa,” the statement said. “The United States will then return additional locations once replacement facilities are constructed and when a sizable contingent of U.S. Marine Corps forces relocate outside of Japan, namely to Guam and Hawaii.”
The plan’s introduction reiterates the commitment of the two nations to the realignment of U.S. forces as outlined in the May 2006 “United States-Japan Roadmap for Realignment Implementation.” The realignment is to “ensure a life-of-the-Alliance presence for U.S. forces in Japan as stated in the [roadmap] and will maintain deterrence and mitigate the impact of U.S. forces on local communities,” according to the new plan.
In 2006, the realignment involved the relocation of 8,000 U.S. Marines and their families to Guam and became known on Guam as “the buildup.” The Guam aspect of the realignment has been scaled back and is being revamped.
Under the plan, “the U.S. government remains committed to return lands on Okinawa as designated U.S. Marine Corps forces relocate from Okinawa, and as facilities become available for units and other tenant activities relocating to locations on Okinawa. The government of Japan noted its responsibility to relocate all functions and capabilities that are resident in U.S. facilities designated for return, and that are required by U.S. forces remaining in Okinawa, including the housing necessary to support the remaining U.S. Marine Corps units, in coordination with the U.S. [government],” the plan reads.
According to the plan, the total or partial return of six facilities or areas was designated in the 2006 document and remains unchanged. The estimated date of return of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, at 481 hectares the largest property in the plan and the subject of a controversial replacement plan, is Japan fiscal year 2022 or later.