Japan to propose adding environmental regulations to U.S. bases treaty

Mainichi Daily News
December 3, 2009

The Japanese government will call for the addition of environmental regulations to the Japan-U.S. Status-of-Forces Agreement.

The proposal will be made at a coming meeting of the Cabinet-level working group established by the two nations to address the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. With the working group moving towards a solution of that issue and apparently ready to take up at least some reforms of the status-of-forces agreement, Japan is looking to lessen the burden of hosting U.S. forces on Okinawa Prefecture.

Specifically, the Japanese government will call on the inclusion of provisions calling on the United States to clean up any pollution connected to its bases, and allow both local and government officials access for inspections. There have been accidental spills of toxic substances such as fuel on and around U.S. bases, but under the current status-of-forces facilities management terms the United States is not responsible for cleaning up such spills upon return of the land to Japanese control and does not allow Japan to conduct environmental pollution assessments.

The Status-of-Forces Agreement was signed in 1960 based on the Japan-U.S. security pact. It has not been amended since, and contains no environmental provisions. …

… However, the United States is not showing any interest in amending the Status-of-Forces Agreement, and there is a danger that the U.S. will not shift away from its current incremental approach to improving the treaty.