Camp Fuji is part of a larger United States military installation in the central eastern Japanese prefecture of Shizuoka. The base is part of the United States Marine Corps network and is part of a larger Marine Corps base, Camp Butler. Located near the small town of Gotemba, Camp Fuji derives its namesake from the mountain that overshadows it, Mount Fuji.
Camp Fuji spans over 300 square acres, with 30 of them being dedicated to live fire small arms and crew served weapons ranges. Most US Marines in the Pacific area use Camp Fuji for training evolutions at some point in their rotation through the region.
The base owes its existence to decade’s old agreement between Japan and the United States that followed the close of World War II. Immediately following their surrender, the military capacities of Japan were all but removed. There was however an agreement that over time the United States would lessen their military footprint and Japan would rebuild their armed forces, slowly taking over control of the area. The process continues to this day, but will take many more years to complete. Though being a United States Marine Corps facility, a small area of the base, specifically the helicopter pads, are now open to combined United States and Japanese use.
The area of Camp Fuji has been of military importance for several centuries, with its first use by Kamakura Shogunate samurai in the 15th century. In the 20th century the area was used by the Japanese Imperial Army as a training facility during World War II. The Imperial Army built a massive training facility and several smaller surrounding camps. As World War II came to an end, United States Forces took over and absorbed most Japanese military installations, including the Imperial Army training facility and its satellite camps.
After their takeover, the main facility and its camps were renamed to Fuji McNair, South, Middle and North. The United States Marine Corps took over primary control of the base in 1953, using the base as a staging and training area. Small sections of the base were, however given back to Japanese control, including the nearby area of now present day Japanese Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF) Camp Takigahara.
Camp Fuji was not originally designed with Marine comfort at the forefront. Marines stationed at Camp Fuji are on what is known as and “unaccompanied tour”, meaning the United States Marine Corps does not provide housing or moving allowances for families. Any Marines wishing to bring their families are required of off base, an option only open to senior enlisted and commissioned Marines.
Camp Fuji also does not have an active Navy medical facility. Any Marines or sailors requiring serious medical treatment are required to visit local hospitals in town. The base is also well known in the Marine Corps for a decided lack of off duty activities and recreational facilities. Over the years, this built up a great deal of resentment among Marines. As a result, the Marine Corps undertook a large scale operation to improve the base, an effort that continues today.