The Japan-U.S. Special Action Committee (SACO) Interim Report

April 15, 1996
Minister for Foreign Affairs Ikeda
Minister of State for Defense Usui
Secretary of Defense Perry
Ambassador to Japan Mondale

The Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) was established in November, 1995 by the Governments of Japan and the United States. The two Governments launched the SACO process to reduce the burden on the people of Okinawa and thereby strengthen the US-Japan alliance.

The mandate and guidelines for the SACO process were agreed upon by the Government of Japan and the US Government at the outset of the joint endeavor. Both sides agreed that the SACO would develop recommendations for the Security Consultative Committee (SCC) on ways to consolidate, realign and reduce US facilities and areas, and adjust operational procedures of US forces in Okinawa consistent with their respective obligations under the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security and other related agreements. The work of the SACO is scheduled to conclude after one year.

The SACO, working with the Joint Committee, has conducted a series of intensive and thorough discussions. As a result of these discussions, the SACO and the Joint Committee earlier announced a number of concrete steps to address Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) related issues such as noise reduction initiatives and adjustments to operational procedures.

Today, at the SCC, Minister Ikeda, Minister Usui, Secretary Perry and Ambassador Mondale agreed to several significant initiatives on the basis of the discussions conducted thus far at the SACO. These measures, when implemented, will reduce the impact of the activities of US forces on communities in Okinawa, while fully maintaining the capabilities and readiness of US forces in Japan. The total acreage of US facilities and areas in Okinawa is estimated to decrease by approximately 20 percent.

The SCC has emphasized the importance of implementing these measures in a timely manner without delay, and has instructed the SACO to complete and recommend plans with concrete implementation schedules by November 1996. In order to minimize the impact of the activities of US forces on Okinawa, the Governments of Japan and the United States will cooperate to implement the following:

Return Land:

- Return Futenma Air Station. Return Futenma Air Station within the next five to seven years, after adequate replacement facilities are completed. The airfield's critical military functions and capabilities will be maintained through relocations of facilities. This will require construction of a heliport on other US facilities and areas in Okinawa; development of additional facilities at Kadena Air Base; transfer of KC-130 aircraft to Iwakuni Air Base (see Implementation of Noise Reduction Initiatives); and a joint US-Japan study on emergency use of facilities in the event of a crisis.

- Return Major Portion of Northern Training Area while ensuring access to the ocean.

- Release US joint use of Aha Training Area (land).

- Return Gimbaru Training Area. Relocate facilities to other US facilities and areas in Okinawa.

- Return Sobe Communications Site. Return Sobe Communications Site once a new site is constructed at Camp Hansen (Central Training Area) in the next five years.

- Return Yomitan Auxiliary Airfield. Relocate parachute drop training.

- Return Most of Camp Kuwae. Relocate the Naval Hospital and other facilities there to other US facilities and areas in Okinawa

- Return Senaha Communications Station. Relocate the Senaha Communications Stations and associated facilities to Torii Station and other US facilities and areas in Okinawa, allowing the release of land.

- Return Portions of Makiminato Service Area. Return land adjacent to Route 58.

- Return land as a result of housing consolidation. Develop a joint plan to consolidate US housing areas in Okinawa which will allow for the return of a significant portion of land in older housing areas including Camp Kuwae (Lester) and Camp Zukeran (Foster).

- Accelerate return of Naha Port. Build a new port at Urasoe to allow for the return of Naha Port.

Adjust Training and Operational Procedures:

- Terminate artillery live-firing training over Highway 104, with the exception of artillery firing required in the event of a crisis. Relocate 155mm artillery live-fire training to the mainland of Japan.

- Relocate parachute drop training to Iejima.

- Terminate conditioning hikes on public roads in Okinawa.

Implement Noise Reduction Initiatives:

- Implement agreements on aircraft noise abatement countermeasures at Kadena Air Base and Futenma Air Station announced by the Joint Committee.

- Transfer KC-130 Hercules aircraft, relocate their supporting facilities, and transfer AV-8 Harrier aircraft. Transfer KC-130 aircraft currently based at Futenma Air Station and relocate their supporting facilities to Iwakuni Air Base in conjuction with the transfer of a similar number of Harrier aircraft to the United States.

- Relocate Navy P-3 operations and supporting facilities at Kadena Air Base from the Navy ramp to the other side of the major runways, and move MC-130 operations from the Navy ramp.

- Build new noise reduction baffles at Kadena Air Base.

- Limit night flight training operations at Futenma Air Station.

Improve Status of Forces Agreement Procedures:

- Establish new procedures to provide timely information on US military aircraft accidents.

- Seek greater public exposure of Joint Committee agreements.

- Review and publicize guidelines for access to US facilities and areas.

- Implement agreement on measures concerning markings on US forces official vehicles.

- Expand education programs for voluntary automobile insurance.

- Review and publicize quarantine procedures.

- Publicize guidelines on removing expended munitions at Camp Hansen.

The two sides agreed to continue to study additional issues, including US recreational facilities.

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