Next fiscal year, the Ground Self-Defense Force will establish a new organization, tentatively named the Ground Central Command (GCC), at Camp Asaka, a GSDF garrison straddling Tokyo’s Nerima Ward and the three Saitama prefectural cities of Asaka, Wako, and Niiza. With the establishment of the new command, the headquarters of the GSDF’s Central Readiness Force (CRF) (Sagamihara City, Kanagawa Prefecture) will be abolished. The current CRF headquarters building will be shared with U.S. forces, Akahata learned from sources on Nov. 17. The Japanese government spent 18 billion yen to build the CRF headquarters for the GSDF’s exclusive use, but now it will be provided to the U.S. forces.
The CRF headquarters was established in March 2007 at Camp Asaka for the GSDF’s centralized management of its overseas missions. In March 2013, the headquarters was moved to the U.S. Army’s Camp Zama, stretching over Zama and Sagamihara cities in Kanagawa Prefecture, as part of the establishment of a bilateral headquarters along with the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan.
The joint use of the CRF headquarters building was approved at a meeting of the Japan-U.S. Joint Committee held on July 28 this year. In an earlier agreement made in 2009, the Japanese and U.S. governments decided to share only the site of the headquarters with a total area of approximately 38,000 square meters. But this year’s agreement included the headquarters building with about 2,000 square meters in addition to the site.
Regarding the joint use of the CRF headquarters building, an official of the Defense Ministry’s Public Information Division explained, “It’s intended to make the most of close relations between the GSDF and U.S. Army Japan.” The official added, “The decision on the joint use is based on the Status of Forces Agreement’s Article 2, Paragraph 4 (a) that allows Japan’s temporary use of facilities when the U.S. military does not use them.
In December 2007, the U.S. Army First Corps established its forward-deployed command at Camp Zama as an operations command for rapid deployment in the event of contingencies in the Asia-Pacific region. The First Corps and the CRF headquarters plan to jointly run a command post for operations overseas, which indicates their integration is moving forward.
With the abolishment of the CRF headquarters, the two governments plan to newly establish a “Japan-U.S. joint division” within the GSDF Central Command in order to strengthen cooperation between the First Corps’ forward-deployed command and GSDF at the CRF headquarters building.
The establishment of the GCC means the construction of a third GSDF building in only 10 years from the CRF’s launch to its scheduled abolishment, spending a total of 28 billion yen until the current fiscal year, broken down into about 800 million yen yen for the construction of CRF headquarters at Camp Asaka in March 2007, 18 billion yen to move the CRF headquarters to U.S. Army Camp Zama in March 2013, and 9.2 billion yen for the construction of the GCC at Camp Asaka in FY2017.