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The United States and Japan have reached an agreement obligating U.S. military bases in Japan to preserve the environment, government sources said.

The agreement was to be announced at a “two plus two” meeting Monday in New York attended by Foreign Minister Yohei Kono, Defense Agency chief Kazuo Torashima, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Defense Secretary William Cohen.

The agreement follows reports that hazardous chemicals such as polychlorinated biphenyl, which can damage human skin and cause liver failure, have been detected in the bases’ warehouses, soil and water.

The Foreign Ministry in June announced that U.S. forces in Japan were storing 440 tons of PCB. U.S. officials countered that the amount was less than 1 percent of the total amount of PCB in Japan.

In early 1999, 150 tons of waste material containing PCB was found stored at a U.S. Army base in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture.

Also during the New York meeting, Japan and the U.S. are expected to sign a new host-nation support accord, reducing Japan’s payment of costs for maintaining U.S. forces stationed in Japan.

The host-nation Special Measures Agreement, initially drawn up in 1987, stipulates that Japan pay all yen-based costs incurred by U.S. forces in Japan for labor and utilities.

Under the new agreement the U.S. will cover all such costs for off-base housing.

The four ministers will release a joint statement on the importance of the Japan-U.S. alliance and the security situation in the Asia-Pacific region, notably on the Korean Peninsula, the sources said.

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