Japanese government finalizes reversion of Northern Training Area land on Okinawa
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The Japanese government has finalized the reversion of the largest swath of land from U.S. to Japanese control since 1972.
Officials celebrated handing back the land to private and municipal landowners during a ceremony Monday in the village of Kunigami, an Okinawa Defense Bureau spokesman said.
“I believe that the formal handover of around [9,900 acres] of land to the landowners today set a direction toward mitigating the impact on the local communities,” Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters after the ceremony.
The land, which was once part of the U.S. military’s Northern Training Area, was included in the approximately 18,640 acres given back to Japan in December 2016. Since then, Japanese defense officials have been busy testing the area’s soil and water for pollution while also checking for unexploded ordnance. None have been found so far.