Relocation of U.S. housing complex eyed

Japan and the United States have been discussing the possible relocation a U.S. military housing complex in Yokohama, government sources said Monday.

The U.S. military residential area in the Negishi area, covering 43.1 hectares, is one of four locations in Yokohama being used by the U.S. forces that are the subject of bilateral negotiations concerning their partial or full return to Japan.

It could be moved to the Ikego area.

The three other current sites are a 242.2-hectare communications facility in Kamiseya, a 2.9-hectare warehouse area in Tomioka and a 77.4-hectare communications center in Fukaya.

Under the envisioned plan, the Negishi complex would be moved to the Yokohama side of another U.S. military residential area in Ikego, which straddles Yokohama and Zushi in Kanagawa Prefecture, the sources said.

A meeting of the facility coordination panel of the joint Japan-U.S. committee was held in February to discuss the matter. The relocation plan will be formally proposed as early as next month, and the two sides hope to reach an agreement by the end of the year, the sources said.

However, the plan involving the Negishi residential area is expected to draw opposition from Japanese residents near Ikego, many of whom opposed the construction of a U.S. military housing facility there in the 1980s.

According to the sources, the Negishi residential area has about 390 housing units. Ikego is closer to the U.S. naval base in Yokosuka and the U.S. is expected to agree to such a move, they said.

The Ikego residential area was once a U.S. munitions depot after World War II.

There was controversy when it was turned into a residential area, with local residents opposing the conversion on the grounds that the forest there was being destroyed.