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US to return land to Japan it has controlled since Second World War

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter listens to French Minister of Defense Jean-Yves Le Drianin after an honor cordon arrival with in Washington, U.S., November 28, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Tokyo [Japan]: United States Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said on Tuesday that the U.S. military this month will return to the Japanese Government more than 9,800 acres of land it has held since World War II.

The 9,852 acres of land on the island of Okinawa, part of a territory officially referred to as the Northern Training Area, is in a large U.S. military base complex on the Pacific island more than 1,550 kilometers southwest of Tokyo, reports the CNN.

The U.S. had turned most of Okinawa over to Japan in 1972 after controlling it from the end of World War II in 1945. This is the largest return of US-occupied land since then.

According to a senior U.S. defense official, the Japanese Government agreed to build six helicopter landing zones as well as some access roads to allow U.S. troops to train in the area.

The U.S. and Japan have been negotiating the handover since the 1990s.

Carter made the announcement while appearing alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Kantei, his office in Tokyo.

The formal handover is due to take place on December 21 and 22 at an event to be attended by U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and the commander of U.S. Forces Japan, Lt. Gen. Jerry Martinez.

Carter arrived in Japan on Monday on a trip to shore up US-Japan military relations amid fears that President-elect Donald Trump might pivot away from the decades-long security alliance.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Abe also announced a symbolic visit this month to Pearl Harbor, the site of the Japanese attack 75 years ago that pulled the United States into World War II.

With this visit, he will become the first sitting Japanese leader to visit the site. (ANI)