YOKOHAMA - The U.S. Army opened new headquarters Wednesday for its 1st Corps at Camp Zama in Kanagawa Prefecture as part of a bilateral agreement in 2006 to reorganize the U.S. forces in Japan.
A ceremony to mark the opening was held at the camp, which straddles the cities of Zama and Sagamihara, but both mayors plus Kanagawa Gov. Shigefumi Matsuzawa declined to participate out of opposition to the transfer of the headquarters from the state of Washington.
About 200 citizens meanwhile staged a protest rally around the base.
At the ceremony attended by about 150 people, including U.S. military brass in Japan, Defense Ministry officials and the 60-member HQ contingent, the 1st Corps commander, Lt. Gen. Charles Jacoby, called for strengthening ties with Japan.
The headquarters constitute a forward-deployed command center for leading the operations of 1st Corps, which is designed to quickly deploy as reinforcements in the Asia-Pacific region.
The Defense Ministry plans to move to Camp Zama by fiscal 2012 the headquarters of the Ground Self-Defense Force’s central quick response unit recently set up to deal with terrorist attacks and international peace activities, in order to boost Japanese-U.S. military cohesion.
The new 1st Corps headquarters ranks will be increased to about 90 by next September, and eventually to 300. The U.S. Army Japan commanding general, Maj. Gen. Elbert Perkins, is the first commander of the new headquarters.
Leak irks Pentagon
WASHINGTON (Kyodo) A senior U.S. Defense Department official expressed dissatisfaction Tuesday over the Self-Defense Forces’ improper handling of classified information.
Referring to the reported leak by a Maritime Self-Defense Force officer of secret data about the U.S. Aegis defense system, James Shinn said Japan and the United States “had problems with the proper handling of classified information in Japan and are working together to prevent this in the future.”
Shinn is currently principal deputy assistant secretary and has been nominated for assistant secretary of defense for Asia and Pacific security affairs.
A 34-year-old MSDF lieutenant commander was arrested last week for allegedly copying highly classified information on the U.S. Aegis defense system from a computer system task force in violation of an agreement with the United States.
Turning to a more general evaluation of Japan, Shinn said the nation has been “slow in expanding the role and missions” of the SDF.
“Japan is wrestling with a fundamental re-evaluation of how to use its very capable Self-Defense Forces in international security missions,” he said. “The overall trend has been forward, but slow.”