TOKYO, Dec. 19 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Army 1st Corps opened its new headquarters Wednesday in Zama Camp located in central Japan's Kanagawa Prefecture as the first step to implement the mass realignment plan of the Japan-based U.S. forces.
Officers of U.S. forces in Japan and Japanese Defense Ministry officials attended the opening ceremony held at the camp, where 1st Corps Commander Lt. Gen. Charles Jacoby called in his speech for closer ties with Japan.
While mayor of Zama city and governor of Kanagawa Prefecture refused to attend the ceremony, some 200 people rallied outside the camp to protest the establishment of the headquarters, Kyodo News reported.
U.S. Army Japan Commanding General Maj. Gen. Elbert Perkins is appointed the first commander of the new headquarters, which currently has 60 members and is scheduled to increase the number of personnel to 300.
The major task of the 1st Corps, whose headquarters was originally in Washington State, is to be deployed as reinforcements to battlefields in the Asia-Pacific.
The Japanese Defense Ministry plans to move the headquarters of the Ground Self-Defense Force's central fast reaction unit to CampZama by fiscal 2012 to push forward the military integration with the U.S. troops.
Japan and the United States reached the final agreement on realigning the U.S. forces in Japan in April 2006.