U.S., Japan to negotiate environmental stewardship pact

27 Dec 2013 | American Forces Press Service

The Department of Defense welcomes the announcement today in Tokyo that the United States and Japan will negotiate a framework to further address environmental stewardship of United States military activities in Japan, according to a DOD news release issue Dec. 25, 2013.

"The United States Armed Forces appreciates its close partnership with Japanese Self Defense Forces and the government of Japan," Hagel said in the release.

Hagel added, "This framework will help guide our activities going forward related to our shared goal of reducing impact to Japan's precious natural landscape as we continue to conduct operations that provide for the common defense of Japan. This is yet another step we are taking together in order to update and modernize our alliance to ensure it is able meet the security challenges of the 21st century."

This framework will include a bilateral agreement that will supplement the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), and will apply to all U.S. activities across Japan, including Okinawa, the DOD release said.

The Embassy of the United States in Tokyo, Japan, today issued a news release about the framework.

Here is the text of the U.S. Embassy's release:

The Government of Japan and the U.S. Government recognize the two Governments' successful efforts on the environment, including 36 years of close cooperation in the Environmental Subcommittee and other relevant subcommittees of the Joint Committee, as well as the implementation of the "Joint Statement of Environmental Principles" announced in 2000. Bearing in mind such bilateral efforts on the environment, the two Governments reached a common view on the significance of further strengthening bilateral cooperation in this field by recognizing the importance of the environmentally friendly operations of U.S. Forces in Japan, as well as by enhancing positive relations between local communities and U.S. Forces in Japan. Regarding U.S. Armed Forces facilities and areas scheduled for return, including those identified in the 2013 Consolidation Plan for Facilities and Areas in Okinawa, the Government of Japan affirmed its responsibility for environmental restoration.

Based upon the above mentioned shared view, the two Governments announce the launch of bilateral consultations towards producing a framework further addressing environmental stewardship relating to U.S. Armed Forces facilities and areas in Japan. This framework is to include a bilateral agreement that would supplement the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) as well as other documents. The two Governments understand that the consultations are to be conducted based on the following:

1. Recognition of the importance of environmental protection and its contribution to managing risk to human health and safety. The two Governments affirmed their continuing commitment to implement the "Joint Statement of Environmental Principles."

2. Application by U.S. Forces in Japan of high environmental standards:

A. U.S. Forces in Japan, in accordance with U.S. policy, apply the Japan Environmental Governing Standards (JEGS), which are drawn from the more protective of U.S. standards, generally applied and enforced Japanese national standards, or any applicable international agreement standards.

B. The U.S. Government's review of local installation procedures periodically to ensure consistency with the JEGS, and to communicate that report to the Joint Committee.

3. Producing uniform procedures for reasonable host nation access to facilities and areas:

A. Following a contemporaneous environmental incident, i.e., a spill;

B. For site surveys associated with land returns as announced in the October 3, 2013, Security Consultative Committee (SCC) Joint Statement.

4. Commitment by the Government of Japan to take measures to support environmentally friendly projects by U.S. Forces in Japan as well as to enhance positive relations between local communities and U.S. Forces in Japan, in close consultation with the U.S. Government. Measures to be taken by the Government of Japan include:

A. Taking new environment-related financial measures additional to the current Facilities Improvement Program (FIP), which the Government of Japan committed to under the June 21, 2011, SCC document on Host Nation Support (HNS).

B. Assuming costs for other environmental measures within the U.S. Armed Forces facilities and areas under a new framework constituting an additional exception relating to Article XXIV of the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA).

C. Taking environmental measures around the U.S. Armed Forces facilities and areas to improve further environmentally friendly living conditions of both local communities and those within the U.S. Armed Forces facilities and areas.

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