The Base Return Action Program aims at the planned and gradual return of existing U.S. military facilities in Okinawa by the year 2015, which is the target year for Okinawa's grand design for the 21st century, "The Cosmopolitan City Formation Concept."
From the viewpoint of the Third Okinawa Promotion and Development Plan, Okinawa's new and fundamental goal is to "establish Okinawa as a unique region that will contribute to the socioeconomic and cultural development of Japan." In order to transform Okinawa into the "southern base for international exchange" the Prefecture has been conducting surveys regarding the basic direction of its long-term development since 1992.
The "Cosmopolitan City Formation Concept" aims at constructing a multipurpose exchange network with various Asian countries that have climates and natural features similar to Okinawa's as well as establishing Okinawa as a city equipped with all the function of any advanced city. In order to do so, the planning of functions suitable for a cosmopolitan city, such as transportation and information networks, are pertinent and imperative. However as approximately twenty percent of Okinawa's main island is taken up by U.S. military bases, their presence poses a great obstacle toward proceeding with such planning.
In order to make any concrete plans for the Cosmopolitan City Formation Concept, it is necessary to have access to the vast land currently used for bases. Thus, so as to enable the smooth, planned and gradual return of these bases, the Prefecture has come up with this "Base Return Action Program."
Furthermore, the Action Program is important to the country as it promotes integrated and appropriate land-use plans based on the ideas of each municipality and the prefecture as a whole.
2. Target Areas
The areas targeted in the Base Return Action Program include all 40 U.S. military facilities located in Okinawa Prefecture.
3. Basic Outlook on the Return of U.S. Bases
The Action Program is divided into three separate phases. Each phase aims at undertaking specific projects based on plans for the use of returned land so that the return of the bases can proceed in a planned and gradual manner. In addition, the Action Program is designed to take the following factors into consideration:
1. Relevance to the Cosmopolitan City Formation Concept
2. Requests/Demands for the return of bases thus far
3. Degree to which local municipalities' plans for use of returned land is developed
4. Each municipality's ideas, plans, etc.
The reasoning for each phase is explained below:
- Phase 1 Focuses on bases whose return is being sought and necessary post-return land use planning for those bases by the target year of 2001, which is when the Third Okinawa Promotion and Development Plan will expire
- Phase 2 Focuses on bases whose return is being sought and necessary post-return land use planning for those bases by the target year of 2010, which is when the National Comprehensive Development Plan, currently in effect, is scheduled to expire
- Phase 3 Focuses on bases whose return is being sought and necessary post-return land use planning for those bases by the target year of 2015, which is when the Cosmopolitan City Formation Concept is scheduled to be realized