'Secret arrangements' have allowed U.S. forces' to use Higashi Fuji exercise field -- Akahata editorial, March 16, 2005 (excerpts)

The Japanese Communist Party in the Diet has revealed secret arrangements the Japanese government made with the U.S. government to allow the U.S. Forces in Japan to use the Higashi Fuji exercises field, even after the site was returned to Japan.

The secret arrangements allow preference to be given to U.S. forces' live-fire drills in the exercise field. Under this agreement, the U.S. forces can use the exercise grounds up to 270 days a year, instead of "less than a half year" as has been stated by the government.

The revelation was based on declassified U.S. documents.

In 2001, the U.S. Marine Corps stationed in Okinawa carried out drills for 190 days at Higashi Fuji in Shizuoka Prefecture.

In July 1968, before returning this military maneuver site to Japan, the Japanese and U.S. governments concluded the agreement concerning changes in conditions for the use of SDF bases. One of these declassfied documents which the JCP revealed recently is titled, "Agreed minutes of understanding pertaining to the agreement to release Fuji Maneuver Areas, FAC 2123 and FAC 3127."

It is outrageous that the Japanese government requested that the provision of a "maximum of two hundred and seventy days" each year be included in the attached minutes instead of the agreement's text so that the matter could be kept in secret. A letter the U.S. Forces in Japan Command sent to the U.S. Pacific Forces Command stated that Japan repeatedly requested the U.S. to delay the publication of the agreement as long as possible.

The Japanese government feared that the revelation of the secret agreement would anger the public, especially local residents of areas near the base. How deceitful they are!

The long years of hope for the complete return of the base site cannot be achieved unless Japan becomes free of such secret agreements. It is no wonder that the association of landowners of the base site are opposed to the planned relocation of the Okinawa-based U.S. Marines Corps to the foot of Mt. Fuji.

Increasing co-use by Japan's Self-Defense Forces and U.S. Forces of bases in Japan is the core of the U.S. government's military posture review in Asia.

We must say "no" to such a plan that will allow worldwide JSDF-USFJ joint operations and to the full-fledged dispatch overseas of the SDF. (end)

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