KITA-NAKAGUSUKU, Okinawa Prefecture – Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced on May 15 that Tokyo and Washington are expected to reach an agreement soon on the transformation of part of a US base in Okinawa Prefecture in a public space filled with greenery.
His announcement coincided with a ceremony held the same day in Naha to mark the 50th anniversary of Okinawa’s return from American control to Japanese sovereignty.
US bases are a very sensitive issue in Okinawa Prefecture, which is home to about 70% of all US military installations in Japan.
The site is part of the US Army Camp Foster, also known as Camp Zukeran, whose return to Japan is expected in fiscal year 2024 or later. The designated space is called the Lower Plaza Housing Area.
Kishida said after conducting an inspection tour of the facility that the Japanese and Americans will be able to use the land currently used for housing as a public park before the plot returns to Japan.
“I hope both sides will make extensive use of it,” he added.
Kishida also mentioned the government’s willingness to help local authorities make the most of the former US military site.
“The government will give full support to how the land will be used for the development of Okinawa Prefecture as a whole,” he pledged.
Kishida has been visiting the southernmost prefecture since May 14 ahead of the commemoration ceremony.