Citizens opposed to perpetuating Camp Zama
Akahata editorial (excerpts)
The city governments and residents of Zama and Sagamihara in Kanagawa Prefecture are gearing up for blocking the planned relocation of the U.S. Army 1st Corps Headquarters from the United States to U.S. Army Camp Zama in Kanagawa Prefecture.
In Zama, which has a population of 129,000, nearly 60,000 residents signed the petition in opposition to the relocation plan. The Zama mayor is taking the lead in the opposition campaign supported by the city assembly and residents' associations.
In Sagamihara, with a population of 620,000, a similar signature campaign is being planned for June to collect at least 200,000 signatures.
The two cities are opposed to the relocation plan because the government in 1971 had promised Zama that it would do its utmost for the reduction of Camp Zama. That year, the Self-Defense Forces began to share the Zama base with the U.S. Army. Strengthening the base with the relocation of the Army I Corps HQ reneges on this promise.
The two cities have ample reasons to opposethe plan.
The Army 1st Corps (USA-IC) is a standing integrated corps assigned to deal with U.S. regional conflicts mainly in the Asia-Pacific region.
Irrespective of force structure, the USA-IC in Japan will be tasked to command U.S. wars in the region.
It is reported that the 1st Corps' area of responsibility will be confined to the Far East, but there is no evidence to this assertion. To the contrary, Colonel Rickey Smith of the U.S. Army Staff Office (Future Center) managing the army transformation issue made it clear that they will not be tied to any particular region. (Janes Defense Weekly, December 15, 2004)
The U.S. forces are planning to remake Camp Zama from a logistics base to a command base.
However, the Japanese government now under consultation with the U.S. government on settling the issue of realigning U.S. bases in Japan, declines to discuss details of the talks, saying, "The talks are still underway." This makes the Zama and Sagamihara city governments suspect that they will only be informed after the decision is finalized.
The Japanese government must stop ignoring the keen demands of these cities calling for the USA-IC relocation plan to be foiled. -Akahata, May 29, 2005
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