Japan's incoming government plans to ask U.S. forces stationed in the country to clean up any environmental damage when they move bases, the Sankei newspaper said Monday. The coalition led by the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) wants to add an environmental clause to the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), the Sankei said, without naming its sources.
U.S. forces are not obliged to make good any pollution or other damage within their bases under the 1960 agreement and local governments that host U.S. bases have demanded a clause for environmental restoration.
Under a 2006 accord between Japan and the United States, the Futenma Marine Corps base on southern Okinawa island is set to be relocated from a crowded urban area to a coastal site, which is to be constructed by 2014.
The United States has 47,000 troops stationed in the nation. More than half of them are based on Okinawa.
Okinawa's government has stressed that "the environment is one of the most important issues" in reviewing the SOFA, said Tatsuo Oyakawa, who is in charge of U.S. base issues for the Okinawa administration.
The prefecture has in the past found problems when U.S. bases reverted to Japanese use, including soil contaminated with arsenic, lead and other pollutants, Oyakawa said. "We definitely want to have a clause on the environment."© Wire reports