Aoshima to ask return of Akasaka plot

Tokyo Gov. Yukio Aoshima reiterated his intention April 18 to seek return of a 4,300-sq.-meter plot in Tokyo’s Akasaka district that the U.S. Army in Japan has continued to use as a heliport despite a 1983 agreement.

The agreement stipulates that the property for the provisional heliport revert to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government after completion of a nearby tunnel at a national highway. “We’ve asked for the return of the plot in writing, and we want to continue to make efforts (to seek the reversion). I feel a bit irritated,” Aoshima said.

The plot, which is situated next to the Tokyo office of the U.S. military daily newspaper Stars and Stripes, was originally leased from the national government for use as part of the metropolitan government’s Aoyama Park. The property was offered to the U.S. Army in 1983 for use as a temporary heliport facility because the construction of a tunnel for National Route 3 made use of a nearby U.S. Army heliport impossible.

According to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the Tokyo Defense Facilities Administration Bureau of the national government and the U.S. forces in Japan had agreed in writing on returning the plot after construction of the tunnel was completed. The U.S. forces have continued to use the heliport beyond the completion of the construction in 1993, saying it causes less noise problems than the original one, according to the metropolitan government. The heliport on the plot in question is now also used by the Self-Defense Forces.