U.S. awaits okay for live-fire drills at Mount Fuji

Japan and the United States will decide by the middle of next week to let U.S. Marine Corps based in Okinawa conduct live firing drills at the foot of Mount Fuji in early July, a senior defense official said June 12.

The decision is in line with the Japan-U.S. agreement last August to terminate firing practices that had previously been carried out at an Okinawa Prefecture range that crosses over Prefectural Highway 104. Japanese and U.S. government officials may hold a subcommittee meeting under the Japan-U.S. Joint Committee next week to discuss relocation of the firing range to various sites in other parts of Japan, the official said.

If officially decided, roughly 200 marines based in Okinawa will conduct the drills from July 3-12 at the Ground Self-Defense Forces’ Kita-Fuji facility in Yamanashi Prefecture, which is one of five candidate sites for the drills, he said. Earlier in the day, a 44-member local council on the issue, consisting of heads of local municipalities, forestry workers and other local residents, told the agency that it will accept the U.S. proposal to conduct the drills before the holiday season begins in late July.