Japan, U.S. agree to environment surveys prior to returning bases
The governments of Japan and U.S. announced Monday that they have agreed to conclude a pact that allows local governments to conduct environmental surveys on U.S. bases before they are returned to Japan.
In addition, the agreement calls for Japan to extend financial assistance to eco-friendly projects that the U.S. military undertakes, such as installing solar power panels.
According to the agreement the Japanese municipalities hosting U.S. bases can conduct surveys on the bases before they are actually returned to the Japanese jurisdiction. That includes research on cultural properties and inspections of soil contamination. As there has not been a relevant provision in the SOFA agreement, municipalities who have wanted to conduct such surveys have had to obtain a specific approval from the U.S. military authorities in each case, and that has proven to be a cumbersome and time-consuming process.
The agreement is believed to make the process of transferring and utilizing of the land faster and easier. Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima has been calling for such a pact for some time, and welcomes the agreement.