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HOME  > Past issues  > 2009 February 25 - March 3  > Local citizens demand halt to additional U.S. military housing construction
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2009 February 25 - March 3 [US FORCES]

Local citizens demand halt to additional U.S. military housing construction

March 3, 2009
Calling for the preservation of rare species of birds in the Ikego Forest, one of a handful of natural treasury zones remaining in the Kanto region, and opposing the U.S. Navy plan to build 700 more housing units for U.S. sailors in the Yokohama portion of the area, citizens of Zushi and Yokohama in Kanagawa Prefecture made representations of protest to the government.

The U.S. Navy in Japan plans to relocate about 400 housing units in the Negishi area of Yokohama City to Ikego, ranging over the cities of Zushi and Yokohama, totaling 290 hectares with U.S. Naval auxiliary facilities included.

This plan, if enacted, will destroy the remaining 17.8 hectares of the natural environment within Yokohama City.

Ignoring the November 1994 Zushi City-Kanagawa Prefecture-central government agreement that there shall be no additional construction of U.S. military housings in the Forest of Ikego, the housing construction in the Zushi area was finished.

As a result, birds, including rare species, seem to have moved to Yokohama’s side in the forest and the remaining 210 hectares of land is indeed a rich natural treasury for people in the greaterTokyo area.

On March 2, ten people from two associations in Zushi and Yokohama cities visited the Defense Agency’s South Kanto Bureau to convey their opposition to the additional housing construction plan and their demand for the unconditional return of idle U.S. military facilities in these cities.

They demanded that the ministry suspend any further housing construction and carry out an environmental assessment so that rare species of birds, including the goshawk and white-tailed eagle, will be preserved.

Kasagi Takashi, Japanese Communist Party candidate for the House of Representatives in the southern Kanto district, joined in the negotiations.

Referring to the Convention on Biological Diversity enacted in 2008, Kasagi urged the ministry to conduct an environmental assessment on the forest, specifically on goshawk and other endangered species. This proposal was accepted by the ministry.

While the U.S. forces in Japan claim that there is a shortage of U.S. housings units, Kasagi pointed out that there are nearly 100 unused units in the Ikego housing area (Zushi City) alone. He demanded that the ministry research the whole of the housing conditions for use of U.S. military personnel outside the U.S. bases in Kanagawa Prefecture. This proposal was also accepted.
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