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Officials question U.S. claims no on-base housing is available

Date Posted: 2008-02-28

More than 10,000 U.S. troops live in off-base quarters because of a shortage of government housing on the bases in Okinawa.
That’s the official version of quarters availability, with 10,748 reported this week to the Japanese government has living on the local economy instead of in on-base quarters. Based on media reports, however, the Okinawa Prefecture Assembly is questioning the military claim there’s no housing to be had on base. The military has told the committee group “because we have no space on base, we recommend personnel live off base.”
Committee members say they aren’t sure they accept the U.S. answer now, as reports filter in there are many government quarters on bases sitting empty. In Urasoe City’s Camp Kinser, media reports say, “there are towers with more than nine floors, and not many people are living there. The towers can be seen from Highway 58, but not many people are seen in these towers.” One base worker told a newspaper “I have never seen anyone. I don’t think there are many people living in the towers.”
Another set of reports about Camp Zukeran’s housing, particularly the two-story townhouse type, indicate many of the units are not occupied. The Camp Foster housing, a Japanese official notes, was built with Japanese government money, but isn’t being properly utilized. “If they’re empty,” an official says, “why doesn’t’ the military move people in there instead of putting them off base?”
A spate of new construction in Chatan Town’s Miyagi district is geared to western styles and tastes. Built by a Tokyo construction company, the housing is designed to meet desires of military personnel expected to occupy them. Okinawa officials are questioning whether the construction is warranted, if U.S. officials appropriately moved people onto the bases to occupy available quarters.

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