Camp Lester (Camp Kuwae)
Kuwae POL Depot
Camp Lester (Camp Kuwae) is located on the flat coastline area facing the East China Sea in Chatan town on Okinawa, Japan. Other than having an important military hospital, there was also a school, soccer field, and various living quarters. Also within the facility, the town office was being built under the agreement of Article 2 paragraph 4(a) of the Status of Force Agreement (SOFA), which allows joint use of the area. The Marine Corps' Camp Lester was also adjacent to elements of the Army Petroleum, Oil, and Lubricant (POL) Depot Kuwae, also located in the area.
The United States and Japan released the Final Report of the Special Action Committee on Okinawa on 2 December 1996. The report made 27 recommendations to reduce the impact of the US military presence on the Okinawan people. This included the return of most of Camp Lester, covering approximately 99 hectares (245 acres), with the intention to finish the process by the end of March 2008. The process would require the Naval Hospital to be relocated to Camp Foster (Camp Zukeran) and remaining facilities to be relocated to Camp Foster or other facilities and areas in Okinawa. The recommendations included the consolidation of US housing areas in Camp Lester and Camp Foster and return portions of land in housing areas there with the intention to finish the process by the end of March 2008. Approximately 83 hectares (206 acres) at Camp Foster and 35 hectares (85 acres) at Camp Lester were to be returned through housing consolidation.
On 5 April 2013, the US Department of Defense released a Consolidation Plan for Facilities and Areas in Okinawa. The realignment described in the plan, including consolidation, of US forces within Okinawa was a significant effort by the US and Japanese Governments, which recognized the importance of enhancing Japanese and US public support for the security alliance, which contributed to a sustainable presence of US forces at facilities and areas in Japan as stated in "U.S.-Japan Alliance: Transformation and Realignment for the Future," a document of the Security Consultative Committee (SCC), dated 29 October 2005. When implemented, the realignment would ensure a life-of-the-Alliance presence for US forces in Japan as stated in "United States-Japan Roadmap for Realignment Implementation," also known as the Realignment Roadmap, another SCC document, dated 1 May 2006. The realignment would also maintain deterrence and mitigate the impact of US forces on local communities. In order to realize the realignment, the US and Japanese Governments developed and would implement the consolidation plan.
In a SCC Joint Statement on 27 April 2012, the US and Japanese Governments confirmed that the total or partial return of the 6 facilities and areas designated in the Realignment Roadmap remained unchanged and that the land of aforementioned facilities and areas utilized by US forces were eligible for return under the Consolidation Plan in 3 categories: 1) Areas eligible for immediate return upon completion of necessary procedures; 2) Areas eligible for return once the replacement facilities in Okinawa were provided; and, 3) Areas eligible for return as US Marine Corps forces relocate from Okinawa to locations outside of Japan. Camp Lester and a portion of the Army POL Depot Kuwae were included in the second category.
The area designated as Camp Lester to be included in the land return covered approximately 68 hectares. To prepare for the land return, the Naval Hospital and middle school would have to be relocated to Camp Foster (Camp Zukeran) and family housing (a total of 375 units) would have to be relocated to Camp Foster under the Okinawa Housing Consolidation (OHC). The OHC plan under Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) was reevaluated and based on the post-Defense Posture Review Initiatives (DPRI) family housing requirement on Okinawa. Approximately 910 family housing units, including the replacement of units to be demolished at the construction areas, would be constructed in addition to the 56 units that had already been agreed to. It was said that Camp Lester could be returned upon completion of conditions and necessary procedures for return in JFY2025 or later. The Army POL Depot Kuwae Tank Farm No. 1, a part of the Army POL Depot Kuwae covering approximately 16 hectares, was also identified for return. To prepare for the land return facilities and functions supporting operations at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma would be relocated to Camp Schwab, facilities and functions supporting operations at Kadena Air Base would be relocated to Army POL Depot Chimu-wan Tank Farm No. 2, and administrative building and vehicle fuel points would be relocated to Army POL Depot Kuwae Tank Farm No. 2. It was said that Army POL Depot Kuwae Tank Farm No. 1 could be returned upon completion of conditions and necessary procedures for return in JFY2022 or later.
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