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Questions, rumors float About US Marines move

Date Posted: 2004-06-24

Japanese news media are reporting that the U.S. Marine Corps is going to move 2,600 troops to Camp Zama on mainland Japan.

U.S. Forces Japan officials are tap dancing around the issue, suggesting in media interviews things aren’t what they seem, yet refusing to refute the reports. They suggest the news reports of an impending move “should not be mistaken for official proposals for either side.”

Kanagawa Prefecture Governor Shigefumi Matsuzawa doesn’t think its only a rumor. He’s formally lashed out at the move, which would bring the Marines to his territory. Camp Zama, home of the U.S. Army Japan, is in his prefecture.

News reports say the U.S. will move a part of the Marines’ Okinawa headquarters to the mainland, along with an infantry unit. The intent, they say, is to reduce the burden on Okinawa while providing increased operations with Japanese Self Defense Forces.

The unit reportedly tapped for the move is 3rd Marine Division headquarters now at Camp Courtney in Gushikawa, which would go to Camp Zama. The 3rd Battalion,12th Marine Regiment at Camp Hansen in Kin would go to Fuji, also in Kanagawa Prefecture.

Camp Zama is situated near 5th Air Force and U.S. Forces Japan headquarters at Yokota Air Base in Tokyo, and the U.S. Navy Headquarters in Yokosuka, also in Kanagawa Prefecture.

Another move being reported would shift some 600 Marines at Camp Kinser in Urasoe back to the U.S. Those troops are with the 3d Force Service Support Group.

Last month reports were floating that other U.S. Marines would be shifted to Hokkaido in Northern Japan. The military said the idea was unrealistic, citing difficulties with roads and other infrastructure.

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