Government considering a new base off Hiroshima for U.S. forces' touch-and-goes

The government is considering constructing a new military base for the U.S. forces in Japan on uninhabited Okurokami Island off Hiroshima. The plan includes construction of a 2,000-meter runway enabling the U.S. forces to carry out noisy touch-and-go practices called "night-landing practices" (NLP).

At a news conference on January 30, Fukuda Yasuo, chief cabinet secretary, admitted that the government is discussing the plan as an alternative to U.S. Atsugi Naval Air Station in Kanagawa Prefecture, where U.S. carrier-borne aircraft are conducting NLPs.

Okurokami Island is a 7-square kilometer island in Okimi Town, Hiroshima Prefecture. It is uninhabited, but only two kilometers away from the nearest island which has a population of about 20,000.

Tanimoto Hidekazu, Okimi Town mayor, said he intends to welcome an NLP base in hopes that it will have a major economic effect because of the state subsidy to base-hosting municipalities.

Hiroshima Governor Fujita Yuzan expressed opposition to the construction saying, "Such a military facility shouldn't be built in peace-aspiring Hiroshima."

The Hiroshima Prefectural Council against A and H Bombs (Hiroshima Gensuikyo), Hiroshima A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organization (Hiroshima Hidankyo), and the Hiroshima Peace Committee on January 30 sent a letter to Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro and Defense Agency Director General Ishiba Shigeru, calling for the relocation of the U.S. Atsugi base to be canceled.

The Japanese Communist Party Hiroshima Committee made representations to the Hiroshima Prefectural Government and Hiroshima Defense Facilities Administration Bureau calling on them to oppose the construction of the new base. (end)

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