Kanagawa governor opposes expansion of U.S. Camp Zama

Kyodo

Kanagawa Gov. Shigefumi Matsuzawa told the United States on Monday that his prefecture opposes reported U.S. plans to increase the number of service members at Camp Zama.

At a news conference in Washington after meeting separately with Defense and State Department officials, Matsuzawa said he asked the United States not to deploy a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier at the U.S. Yokosuka Naval Base as a successor to the conventionally powered Kitty Hawk, which is expected to be decommissioned around 2008.

“I notified the United States that as the local authority, we cannot support any further expansion of Camp Zama,” he said.

“We have instead been seeking the consolidation and reduction of U.S. military bases in Kanagawa Prefecture.”

Some media reports have said the Pentagon is seeking to transfer the headquarters of the U.S. Army’s I Corps from Fort Lewis in Washington state to Camp Zama and others have said the U.S. is considering transferring some marines in Okinawa to Zama.

According to Matsuzawa, the officials he met said the United States has yet to reach a conclusion regarding the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan.

But the U.S. officials said “modernization” of Camp Zama will be necessary, as there is a strong possibility the U.S. Army will be subject to transformation.

With the advancement of military technology and the emergence of new challenges, such as terrorism, the United States is promoting a transformation of its forces at home and abroad.

Matsuzawa said the U.S. officials told him Washington has yet to reach a conclusion on which aircraft carrier will replace the Kitty Hawk, but that they have not ruled out the possibility that a nuclear-powered carrier will be deployed as its successor.

The officials said the United States is confident about the safety of U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, according to Matsuzawa.