Kishida: Site at U.S. base to become park

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Lower Plaza residential area is seen at the Camp Foster U.S. military base in Okinawa Prefecture.

GINOWAN, Okinawa (Jiji Press) — Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Sunday that a residential site at a U.S. base in Okinawa Prefecture will be converted to a park before the site’s planned return to Japan in fiscal 2024 or later.

The park will be for joint use by Japan and the United States, he said at the day’s ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of Okinawa’s reversion to Japan from post-World War II U.S. occupation, held in the city of Ginowan in the southernmost Japan prefecture. Kishida attended the event in person.

The land in question is the 23-hectare Lower Plaza residential area at the U.S. Marine Corps’ Camp Foster, also known as Camp Zukeran.

“We will make necessary preparations so that we can start to use the park in the next fiscal year,” which begins in April 2023, Kishida said. “We hope to steadily produce tangible results one by one as we aim to reduce Okinawa’s heavy burden of hosting U.S. military bases,” he added.

Earlier on Sunday, Kishida visited the Lower Plaza area, which straddles the city of Okinawa and the village of Kitanakagusuku, telling local officials, “I do want you to [actively] utilize the park.”

The prime minister also visited the Ginowan municipal government and inspected the Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station in the city and the site of the former West Futenma Housing Area, which has already been returned to Japan from the U.S. military, from the rooftop of the city government building.

He also met with researchers at Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University in the village of Onna.