December 16, 2007

US Army upgraded a base in Japan

The US Army upgraded a base in Japan into a key Asian operational hub, despite protests by local leaders who oppose a greater influx of US troops. Camp Zama on Tokyo's outskirts was named a forward headquarters of the I Corps, which is under the Pacific Command but whose troops have also been sent to Iraq. The I Corps headquarters remains at Fort Lewis in the western US state of Washington, but the forward unit gives Camp Zama the communications network to coordinate in response to an emergency.

The Central Readiness Force of the Japanese army -- known as the Self-Defence Forces due to the pacifist constitution -- also plans to move here by the 2012 fiscal year as Tokyo takes a more active military role abroad. More than 40,000 US troops are based in Japan and have often had uneasy relations with local populations who accuse them of causing crime and noise. The Camp Zama upgrade was part of a realignment plan agreed by Washington and Tokyo in 2005 which is part of a global transformation by the US military to meet new challenges. Under the deal, around 8,000 US troops are expected to leave Japan for the US Pacific island of Guam.

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