News: Japan, U.S. officials sign disaster-preparedness agreement
Story by Lance Cpl. Elizabeth Case
CAMP KINSER, Okinawa - Mayor Tetsuji Matsumoto of Urasoe City and Maj. Gen. Charles L. Hudson, commanding general of Marine Corps Installations Pacific and Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler, signed a local implementing agreement Jan. 17 at Camp Kinser specifying procedures for the evacuation of Okinawa residents through Camp Kinser in the event of a natural disaster.
The procedures allow the installation to open one or more of its gates, granting citizens a route for immediate and direct passage to higher ground or shelter immediately before, during or following a natural disaster.
“It’s my pleasure to sign the Local Implementing Agreement for limited disaster preparedness/response access to U.S. Forces, Japan facilities and areas today,” said Matsumoto. “Following the Great East Japan Earthquake, residents highly appreciate this agreement which offers Minatogawa-Sakibaru district and Irijima district the best tsunami response measures.”
This agreement is the fifth of its kind between Okinawa-based officials and Marine Corps leaders, and is an important way to ensure the mutual safety of the citizens of Okinawa and the personnel stationed on U.S. installations.
“Disaster preparedness is critical to safeguarding lives and to quickly recovering from the impacts of a natural disaster,” said Hudson. “The Marine Corps is committed to doing everything we can to be prepared to respond in the event of such a crisis. By treaty we are allies, but by choice we are partners, friends and neighbors. This agreement serves to reinforce our commitment to our friends and neighbors of Urasoe City.”
The signing, which was also attended by representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Okinawa Defense Bureau, and U.S. Consul General Al Magleby, is another step in preparing the two communities for a successful, unified response to future natural disasters.