United Nations Command stepped up use of U.S. bases in Japan last year amid North Korean weapons tests


The United Nations Command gave Japan 27 notifications of plans to use U.S. bases in the country in 2017, compared with 15 the previous year, Japanese and U.S. government sources have said.

The surge in the use of U.S. bases by U.N. forces reflected increased provocations by North Korea, the sources said Sunday.

The UNC was created as the unified command for multinational forces against North Korea in the Korean War.

Eleven member countries of the forces, such as Britain and Australia, that concluded the status of U.N. forces agreement with Japan are allowed to use seven U.S. bases, including Yokosuka naval base in Kanagawa Prefecture, Sasebo naval base in Nagasaki Prefecture and Kadena air base in Okinawa Prefecture.

According to the sources, the UNC-Rear, located at the Yokota base on the outskirts of Tokyo, made 14 advance notifications to the Japanese government of the use of U.S. bases by ships and 13 notifications of use by aircraft.

Prior base-use notifications totaled 12 to 15 per year and were chiefly for aircraft between 2013 and 2016.

In 2017, the number of notifications of uses of the bases by vessels, including an Australian submarine and a French intelligence ship, came to 14, up from one in the previous year.

The sharp rise suggests that the UNC’s joint missions with the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet increased, the sources said, adding that the U.N. forces are also monitoring North Korea’s maritime smuggling of U.N.-sanctioned goods.

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