Yokohama accepts more U.S. housing

Compiled From Kyodo, Staff Reports

YOKOHAMA — Yokohama Mayor Hiroshi Nakada announced his intention Wednesday to accept a basic Japan-U.S. agreement that involves the return of five U.S. military facilities in Yokohama to Japan in exchange for the construction of new housing units in the city.

Nakada made the announcement at a meeting of senior city assembly members.

“We will enter talks (with the central government) on the return of the facilities and the construction of new housing units” to be built in a U.S. military residential area in Yokohama, Nakada was quoted by the assembly members as saying.

Later in the day, Nakata met with Defense Agency chief Shigeru Ishiba and urged him to pay the utmost attention to preserving greenery and minimizing the construction project’s environmental damage.

Nakata also demanded that the government build no more housing units for the U.S. military in the Ikego area in the future.

In response, Ishiba pledged “there will be no more housing units other than the 700 units that were agreed to this time,” according to a Defense Facilities Administration Agency official.

Earlier this month, Japan and the United States reached the basic agreement, which paves the way for the return to Japan of 380 hectares, or 70 percent, of the land used by the U.S. military in Yokohama.

In exchange, the U.S. military will build 700 additional housing units in the Yokohama portion of the U.S. military’s Ikego residential area, which straddles the dividing line between Yokohama and the city of Zushi, Kanagawa Prefecture.

The Zushi Municipal Government is opposed to the additional housing units and has filed a lawsuit with the Yokohama District Court to try to force the central government to drop the plan.