Japan, U.S. agree on new base environment accord


The Japanese and U.S. governments said Monday they have reached “substantial agreement” on a new accord that allows local Japanese officials to enter U.S. military bases to conduct environmental surveys of land expected to be returned to Japanese control.

The accord was proposed as a way to facilitate the contentious plan to move U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma elsewhere in Okinawa, which hosts the bulk of U.S. military facilities in Japan.

But the outline of the new pact announced Monday does not offer details on the extent to which Japan will be ensured the right of access to U.S. facilities, leaving open the question of whether the pact will be effective in preventing contamination, including on land expected to be returned to Japanese control.

According to a joint press release, the new pact, called the Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Environmental Stewardship Relating to the U.S. Armed Forces in Japan, will “supplement” the existing Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) governing the use of U.S. military bases in Japan.

The new agreement will address the establishment and maintenance of procedures for Japanese authorities to have appropriate access to U.S. facilities and areas in two cases — when an environmental or spill incident occurs and when field surveys are needed, including cultural assets surveys, for the return of land to Japanese control.

The Japanese government will “furnish environmentally friendly facilities to U.S. forces and provide funds to pay for the costs of a variety of environmentally friendly projects and activities,” according to the agreement.

SOFA has no clause allowing municipalities to conduct environmental surveys on the bases, requiring prefectural and municipal officials to obtain U.S. permission to enter the facilities.

Under the accord, environmental protection is also not compulsory for the U.S. military.

Wary of possible pollution, Okinawa and other prefectures hosting U.S. military bases have called for the inclusion of an environmental protection clause in the bilateral agreement to allow local authorities to conduct environmental surveys on bases.

  • Jaguar94

    Japan should kick out the U.S. military forces out of their country. Here in the United States many college students know that reality of WW2 and that the USA was just waiting for a excuse to get involve in the world War and by the way many American college students agree that the U.S. is NOT THE POLICE OF WORLD.

    • John Adney

      you clearly have no understanding of the situation. unlike in europe, where germany has reconciled with its neighbors, there has been little healing in east asia. japan and its neighbors depend on the united states to maintain peace in the region. the vast majority of japanese citizens support our presence. kick us out? don’t make me laugh. tokyo pays us so much to stay that it’s literally cheaper for us to maintain forces in japan than in the united states.

      • rossdorn

        “the vast majority of japanese citizens support our presence”

        You forget to mention that the only reason for this is the absurd media in the country, that tells this “majority” on a daíly basis that any of these others countries is actually a threat.

        The only real threat to peace in this part of the world is the same as almost everywhere on the planet: the presence of the US Army.

    • rossdorn

      “…out of THEIR country…”

      You might want to catch some information about reality…