Story and Photo by Paul Long, FLEACT, Yokosuka Public Affairs
Fleet Activities Yokosuka’s Ikego Detachment, in nearby Zushi, played host to a unique opening ceremony, Jan. 31. Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Capt. David Glenister and Zushi Mayor Ryuichi Hirai were among the dignitaries that presided over the festivities celebrating the opening of Ikego Natural Forest Park, which is part of the Ikego Housing Area complex.
The Ikego housing complex is a satellite housing area located 10 miles (16 kilometers) from the Command Fleet Activities Yokosuka main base. “This park is the realization of 45 years of planning,” said Hirai. “We have the responsibility to leave this precious nature to future generations.” Glenister made his remarks in both English and Japanese, to the delight of the residents who gathered to watch the opening ceremony. “I hope the spirit of cooperation that made Joint use a reality will continue between the citizens of Zushi and the residents of Ikego as they enjoy the Joint Use area together,” he said.
Forty hectares of the housing area have been set aside for joint use, meaning the local public can use the track, athletic fields, and campgrounds.“(Local citizens) don’t need a reservation to come and run on the track or to enjoy the park area,” said Ikego’s Command Liaison Officer, Senior Chief Master at Arms George LeTourneau.
Following the ribbon cutting, Zushi citizens ran a 3k run with former hurdler (Olympian) Dai Tamesue, Hirai and South Kanto Defense Bureau Director Hiroshi Marui.
The Zushi High School Brass Band and the U.S. Seventh Fleet Band performed a few songs together. The city also hosted a hiking event with a professional guide for Zushi citizens to walk through the greenery area.The joint use area opened Feb. 1 and will be open for Japanese citizens to use from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Ikego residents and other SOFA-sponsored personnel can use the facilities at any time.