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Tokyo Gov. seeks joint use of 8 US facilities

Date Posted: 1999-06-05

Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara plans to request joint use of all eight U.S. military installations in the nation’s capital, it was reported Saturday.

The demand by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government will be submitted to the central government this month, the Mainichi Daily newspaper reported.

Among the eight facilities the metropolitan government will request is Yokota Air Base, on the outskirts of Tokyo. The giant U.S. air base has a 4,000-meter runway and houses nearly 9,000 military personnel and their families.

Other sites the Tokyo government has on its agenda include the Tama Hills Recreation Center, with its 18-hole golf course, camping areas and baseball field; the New Sanno U.S. Forces Center, the Akasaka Press Center, and communications facilities in Fuchu, Hachioji and Kiyose.

Meanwhile, during a meeting with U.S. Ambassador to Japan Thomas Foley May 26, Ishihara formally asked for the return of Yokota stating it would “ensure peace and safety for Tokyo residents” the Yomiuri Shimbun said.

Until its return, Yokota should be jointly used by both the U.S. military and Japan commercial interests, the report added.

Foley said the issue should be left to the U.S. government and the central government of Japan to resolve, adding that the United States is “convinced that Yokota is an essential part of U.S. forces’ operations in Japan,” the Yomirui quoted the ambassador as saying during the meeting, held at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building.

During the runup to his successful election campaign, Ishihara often cited Yokota, saying it should be used as either an international airport or jointly used by the U.S. military and Japan.

The central government has already rejected Ishihara’s call for a return, with Vice Foreign Minister Shunji Yanai saying the “government has no intention of requesting (to the United States) the return or joint use” of Yokota.

Ishihara stated previously he may attempt to make the “bases a major political issue” and use “public opinion to force the national government and the U.S. to make changes.”

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