The United States has told Japan it wants to begin transferring the headquarters of the U.S. Army’s I Corps from Washington state to Camp Zama in Kanagawa Prefecture in November, sources close to Japan-U.S. relations said Sunday.
The government appears cautious about the proposal, which involves completing the transfer by April 2006, especially as it is already faced with strong opposition from local authorities where U.S. camps and bases involved in the global realignment plan are located.
Shin Ebihara, head of the North American Affairs Bureau of the Foreign Ministry, and Kazuki Iihara, chief of the Defense Agency’s Bureau of Defense Policy, are expected to visit Washington later this month to meet with senior officials and submit a counter proposal, the sources said.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda, Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi and Defense Agency Director General Shigeru Ishiba are discussing the measures, according to the sources.
The U.S. proposal suggests Washington is eager to settle the realignment plan before the Nov. 2 presidential election. But Japanese government sources said Tokyo is hoping to delay the issue until after the election to take advantage of the uncertain political climate then.
Washington has already told Tokyo it plans to transfer the majority of the personnel of its 5th Air Force Headquarters from Yokota Air Base in Tokyo to the U.S. 13th Air Force Headquarters in Guam beginning as early as October.
The United States plans to move the central headquarters of U.S. Forces in Japan from the Yokota base to Camp Zama in the near future after the transfer of the Army’s I Corps headquarters from Washington state, the sources said.
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