U.S. and Japanese representatives signed an official agreement Thursday over the return of a U.S. military base in Aha, northern Okinawa Prefecture.

The return of the base is the first to put into practice a 1996 bilateral agreement to reduce the presence of U.S. military bases in Okinawa. The two countries issued the final report of the Special Action Committee on Okinawa in December 1996, pledging to cut back U.S. military bases in Okinawa by 21 percent. The Aha naval facility, located in the northern area of the prefecture, is 480 hectares in area with 7,895 hectares of sea area.

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