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U.S., Japan Sign Environmental Clarification of Status of Forces Agreement

By Lisa Ferdinando DoD News, Defense Media Activity

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WASHINGTON, Sept. 28, 2015 — Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida signed a clarification today on environmental stewardship related to U.S. forces in Japan.

The agreement is an "important clarification" that strengthens cooperation on environmental stewardship in relation to U.S. armed forces in Japan, Carter said at the Pentagon signing ceremony.

"This agreement is a testament to the enduring strength of the U.S.-Japan alliance, and comes at a time when the U.S. armed forces and Japan Self-Defense Forces have found new opportunities to cooperate around the world and in frontiers such as space and cyberspace," he said.

U.S. Mindful of Being ‘Good Neighbors’

The United States is mindful about being "good neighbors," Carter said. He said that includes realigning bases and being aware of the concerns local communities have about U.S. operations. The agreement is a "big step forward for our alliance," Carter said.

The agreement includes clarification that Japanese officials will have access to a facility after a spill, and will have access to an area prior to the U.S. returning it to Japan.

Kishida said the agreement includes requests from local communities for the access to U.S. facilities and applies stricter environmental standards. He welcomed the agreement, saying it will enhance the confidence of local communities and build support in Japan for future security arrangements with the United States.

"I'm extremely pleased that today efforts on both sides have come into fruition and that we are able to sign this agreement," Kishida said through an interpreter.

The agreement comprises two documents: a binding international agreement and a U.S.-Japan Joint Committee memorandum.  

 (Follow Lisa Ferdinando on Twitter: @FerdinandoDoD)