U.S. helicopter training exercises at civil airport canceled

The U.S. Army in South Korea canceled its planned low-altitude exercises with three MH-47 helicopters at Japan's local airport. The U.S. Forces in Japan headquarters on October 29 gave this notification to the Fukue City mayor's office in Nagasaki Prefecture. The Pefectural government has jurisdition over the Fukue civil airport.

The Japan-U.S. Agreement on the Status of U.S. Forces in Japan doesn't require the Japanese government to provide civil airports for use to the U.S. forces. The U.S., however, planned this as part of special flight operations from Tegu in South Korea to Kadena in Okinawa via the Fukue civil airport without landing.

Kiba Yaichiro, Fukue mayor, on October 24 replied to Nagasaki Prefecture that the city is not supporting the training. Kaneko Genjiro, Nagasaki governor, on October 25 requested the Japanese government and foreign ministry to take steps to get the exercises canceled.

The Japanese Communist Party Nagasaki Prefectural Committee and JCP Prefectural Assembly members on October 28 urged the prefecture to make efforts for the cancellation of the exercises, and a JCP committee carried out a street campaign and made a similar request to the mayor.

Foreign Minister Kawaguchi Yoriko, however, in a Diet meeting on October 29 told a JCP lawmaker that the government is not in a position to judge whether the U.S. training at a civil airport violates the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement or not. She also declined to call on the U.S. to cancel such exercises. (end)