Declassified memo shows Japan has OK'd U.S. forces' use of SDF training ground up to 270 days a year

The U.S. and Japanese governments have a 45-year-old secret memorandum that says that U.S. forces may use the Ground Self-Defense Forces Higashifuji exercise field in Shizuoka Prefecture for up to 270 days a year

This was revealed by Japanese Communist Party representative Kami Tomoko at the Upper House Budget Committee meeting on March 7.

The secret arrangement made by the two countries is in a memorandum attached to the draft agreement (March 2, 1962) in preparation for returning to Japan the U.S.-held Higashifuji exercise field in 1968.

The memorandum stipulates that the U.S. forces have priority rights over the SDF to use 65 percent of the Higashifuji exercise field for up to 270 days a year.

It conflicts with the government explanation that the U.S. forces can use the exercise field for no more than six months in a year, Kami pointed out.

In reply to Kami's request for an access to the memorandum, Defense Chief Ono Koto promised to disclose as much as possible.

Akahata on March 8 reported that the memorandum allows the Higashifuji exercise field to be freely used by the U.S. forces, and that under the present global realignment of U.S. forces, the co-use of Japanese bases is being expanded and strengthened. The memorandum can be used to justify the relocation of part of the U.S. Marine Corps from Okinawa to the Higashifuji exercise field.

Local landowners and leaseholders as well as near-by municipalities that have long opposed moves to perpetuate the Japan-U.S. joint exercises in the Higashifuji exercise filed, are expressing their opposition to the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps to their area. (end)

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