U.S. Navy continues underwater test explosions in fishing grounds

In complete disregard of local residents and fishers' protests, the U.S. 7th Fleet on November 14 carried out an underwater test explosion in the Sea of Japan off Shimane Prefecture on short notice.

In the test area, located to the west of the Oki Islands, it has been the peak fishing season for queen crab and squid, and about 770 fishing ships have been operating there.

Notifying Japan about the test explosion on November 13, the U.S. forces exploded a mine underwater the very next day despite the request of Japan's Fisheries Agency to cancel the test.

Local fishermen complained that the U.S. forces should have announced its test plan much earlier. A fishermen's cooperative of a town in Shimane Prefecture was notified of the test plan at 6:30 p.m. of the day before the test.

Several Oki Islands residents reported to Shimane Prefecture on November 14 that they felt shock waves or that their houses shook.

Shimane and Tottori prefectural governors as well as local governments near the test area expressed their protest against the test to Japan's government on the same day.

According to the 7th Fleet, the test explosion was conducted as part of joint exercises with the Maritime Self-Defense Forces, which started on November 11.

The Fisheries Agency, through the Foreign Ministry on November 14, requested the U.S. military to cancel further tests scheduled to be held from November 15 to 20 at two sites in the East China Sea and the Pacific Ocean off Kagoshima Prefecture.

But, on November 15, the U.S. forces informed Japan that they will carry out exercises as scheduled but with less explosives. The Japanese government accepted the revised plan, stating that the U.S. forces are taking enough consideration to safety in carrying out the exercises.

The Japanese Communist Party urged the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to again make representations to the U.S. side, demanding that the exercises be stopped.

Nakabayashi Yoshiko in the House of Councilors special committee meeting on November 15 stated that the exercise sites include Japan's exclusive economic zone just at the peak of the fishing season for queen crab. The Japanese government must continue to protest against the exercises until they are completely stopped, she emphasized. (end)