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Japan-U.S. agree to allow bases entry during natural disasters

Date Posted: 2011-06-09

A Japan-U.S. joint committee has agreed on a plan that would permit Japanese residents access to U.S. military installations in Okinawa when natural disasters strike.

Ginowan City’s mayor pressed for the approval in the aftermath of the March 11th earthquake and tsunami, which had even Okinawa under a tsunami warning. Roads were jammed by cars fleeing low-lying roadways, particularly in the Oyama and Isa areas. Takeshi Asato sought action on the first such agreement in Okinawa Prefecture, asking for a “local operation agreement” to allow base gates to be opened to allow citizens to take refuge on the bases.

The term ‘taking refuge’ is decided by base commanders’ discretion, and the plan, which has been forwarded to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Okinawa Office, would clarify the rules and definitions. Asato conferred with commanders at Camp Foster and Futenma Marine Corps Air Station following the March 11th quake, demanding early application of the local operations agreement by the Americans in observance of the Japan – U.S. Joint Committee Agreement.

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