16 August 2013

Japan minister to visit former US bases in Subic, Clark

MANILA, Philippines - A Japanese minister under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's second Cabinet is set to visit former American military facilities in Clark Air Base and Subic Bay Naval base in September.

Ichita Yamamoto, Japan's Minister of State for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs, will inspect how the bases in Pampanga and Zambales have been successfully converted into civilian areas and commercial zones, Kyodo News reported Wednesday,

Yamamoto will reportedly use the Philippines' experience from Subic and Clark's development for Japan's own conversion of military bases within Okinawa Prefecture.

Okinawa, the poorest prefecture in Japan, has hosted US presence since 1972 but locals recently withdrew support for the American troops in the area. Residents have also blamed Tokyo for what is perceived as its lack of commitment in removing the bases.

Yamamoto's pending visit, meanwhile, is said to be be a key move in easing the tension between the local community and the government, which has vowed to demilitarize Okinawa.

US forces in the Philippines' bases, meanwhile, left in 1991 after the Senate rejected a renewal of a treaty to extend the US military's lease of the bases.

President Benigno Aquino III revived talks to allow the renewed presence of American troops in the Philippines amid China's incursions in Philippine-claimed territories in the West Philippine Sea.(Camille Diola, Philstar.com)

Japanese Minister of State Ichita Yamamoto (left) wants to learn from the Philippines' experience in converting Naval Station Subic Base, a former US military base. (OIST JAPAN PHOTO/WIKICOMMONS)