The Defense Ministry’s Okinawa bureau allowed reporters to watch as U.S. military signs came down Monday at Awase Meadows Golf Course at Camp Foster in Kitanakagusuku, a day after the 47-hectare compound was returned to Japan in line with a 1996 agreement.
Tokyo and Washington agreed to return the links, which opened in 1948, on condition that an alternative course for U.S. military personnel be opened in the U.S. Kadena Ammunition Storage Area of Okinawa.
The new 18-hole Taiyo Golf Club opened March 1, with “several improvements and innovations, including greens that are 75 percent larger than Awase’s,” according to the Web site for U.S. Marine Corps community services in Okinawa.
One of the largest shopping malls in Okinawa is slated to be built in the compound of the Awase course by 2013.
The compound, now being managed by the central government, will be returned to Japanese landowners after golf-related facilities are removed.
Nonmilitary Japanese were allowed to play at Awase Meadows when they were escorted by U.S. personnel or when it was not fully booked. The course provided precious playing opportunities for local golfers during the occupation of Okinawa that lasted until 1972.
“Awase Meadows Golf Course earns the distinction of being the first (golf) course ever built on the island of Okinawa,” according to the marines’ Web site.
“On Okinawa, the destruction of World War II was still apparent, however, it was also a time of new beginnings on the island. For the first time, aspects of American culture, such as rhythm and blues, rock and roll, A&W Root Beer and golf were introduced to Okinawa,” the Web site says.
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