The U.S. military has returned 10,000 acres of land in Okinawa to the Japanese government in a ceremony held at Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s office in Tokyo, DoD News reported Wednesday.
Jim Garamone writes the transfer of land on Okinawa’s Northern Training Area will work to reduce U.S. military footprint in the island by 20 percent.
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said the two governments aim to demonstrate their commitment to realign U.S. forces through the return of property slated earlier this week.
“[The land transfer] is an important step in the Okinawa consolidation plan, which will eventually result in the transfer of 60 acres of land south of Kadena Air Base,” said U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy.
Officials said U.S. and Japanese forces will continue to train on the remainder of the 19,300-acre Northern Training Area, Garamone reported.
The U.S. military also plans to give back a majority of American facilities near Kadena Air Base and relocate Marine Corps Air Station Futenma as part of efforts to consolidate U.S. installations in Okinawa, DoD News stated.