The United States and Japan are strongly committed to strengthening our security Alliance in a dynamic regional and global security environment. To this end, our two governments have endeavored to sustain the robust forward presence of U.S. forces and to enhance the Alliance capabilities necessary for Japan’s defense and the maintenance of regional peace and stability. In tandem with these efforts, we have taken into account the sentiments of local communities that host U.S. facilities and areas throughout Japan, especially in Okinawa. Our two governments have therefore worked to mitigate the impact of U.S. forces, with a view to ensuring the political sustainability of their presence.
In this context, our governments are pleased to announce that substantial agreement has been achieved on an Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Environmental Stewardship Relating to the United States Armed Forces in Japan, which would supplement the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement. This Supplementary Agreement is part of a broader framework that recognizes the importance of environmental protection, fulfilling the bilateral goals set forth in the Joint Announcement of December 2013. The two sides now aim to finalize a set of ancillary documents on technical issues that will complete the overall framework.
Provisions of the Supplementary Agreement address the following:
- Environmental Standards: The United States Government issues and maintains, in accordance with its policy, Japan Environmental Governing Standards (JEGS), which generally adopt the more protective of United States, Japan, or international agreement standards, and which include provisions for spill response and prevention.
- Access: Establishment and maintenance of procedures for Japanese authorities to have appropriate access to U.S. facilities and areas in two cases: 1. Following a contemporaneous environmental incident, i.e. a spill; and 2. For site surveys, including cultural asset surveys, associated with land returns.
- Financial Measures: The Government of Japan furnishes environmentally friendly facilities to the U.S. forces and provides funds to pay for the costs of a variety of environmentally friendly projects and activities.
- Information Sharing: The two governments share available and appropriate information.
This achievement is fully consistent with successful efforts to ensure a politically sustainable and operationally resilient posture for U.S. forces in Japan through the realignment initiative. As an essential element of realignment, the two governments reaffirm that the plan to construct the Futenma Replacement Facility (FRF) at Camp Schwab-Henokosaki area and adjacent waters is the only solution that avoids the continued use of Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma. We reaffirm our strong commitment to the plan and underscore our determination to achieve its completion, which would bring about the long-desired return of MCAS Futenma. Significant progress has been made to enable the development of the FRF, to include obtaining the landfill permit from Okinawa Prefecture government on December 27, 2013, as well as the start of construction-enabling activities. The construction of the FRF and the fulfillment of the conditions for return as described in the April 2013 Consolidation Plan are essential elements of the procedures for return of MCAS Futenma in accordance with the Plan.
Our two governments also reconfirm the importance of land returns south of Kadena Air Base based on the 2006 “Roadmap” and April 2013 Consolidation Plan and stress our determination to continue efforts toward implementation. These efforts yielded Joint Committee decisions on the four immediate land returns last year, including the West Futenma Housing Area, and the two governments underscore the importance of bilateral cooperation under the existing bilateral Plan for the completion of the returns of these lands. As part of these efforts, the Government of Japan is to continue and strengthen its efforts to accelerate implementation of the land return process, in particular at Camp Kinser, in close coordination with the U.S. Government.
The two governments welcome other achievements since the October 3, 2013, “2+2” Joint Statement regarding realignment and impact mitigation, including: the completion of the relocation of a KC-130 squadron from MCAS Futenma to MCAS Iwakuni, which has reduced aircraft operations at MCAS Futenma and decreased even further the number of training hours in Okinawa; the partial lifting of restrictions for a portion of the Hotel-Hotel training area off the east coast of Okinawa; and the integration of Misawa Air to Ground training into the Aviation Training Relocation Program. Additional impact mitigation measures are to be implemented based on the 2006 “Roadmap” and the April 2013 Consolidation Plan.
Our governments wish to acknowledge the entry into force of the Protocol to amend the 2009 Guam International Agreement and bilateral cooperation under the Agreement. The completed relocation of U.S. Marine Corps personnel from Okinawa to locations outside of Japan, including Guam, will help to sustain the forward presence of U.S. forces, while facilitating land returns on Okinawa based on the April 2013 Consolidation Plan. The U.S. Government also plans to explore ways for U.S. Marine Corps units in Okinawa to increase training activities in other locations in the region.
Japan welcomes U.S. efforts to promote the relocation of aviation training, including MV-22s, to locations outside of Okinawa in accordance with previous “2+2” Joint Statements. Recognizing the safety of the operation of U.S. forces’ aircraft, the two governments reaffirm their intent to continue such bilateral efforts to relocate operationally significant training, which strengthens the credibility of the Alliance’s deterrent capability, while enhancing the readiness of U.S. forces and the capacity to respond across the region and throughout Japan. The two governments are to consider similar ways to conduct training in other locations in Japan, provided there are available facilities and areas that meet U.S. operational requirements, taking account of the Ground Self-Defense Force’s initiative for constructing facilities for its own future tilt-rotor aircraft in mainland Japan.