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Japan-U.S. joint training brings heavier burdens on Okinawans

Okinawa's municipalities hosting U.S. bases are increasing their opposition to the joint use of U.S. Kadena Air Base and U.S. Marine Corps Camp Hansen by U.S. forces and Japanese Self-Defense Forces.

Worsening noise pollution: Kadena Base

At the Kadena base on June 6, the U.S. forces carried out a rapid response exercise to cope with emergency situations. From 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., the noise level of U.S. fighter jets registered more than 100 db, the same level as being next to railroad tracks with a train passing by. In terms of the number of noise incidents at over 100 db (36), it was the worst day since Kadena Town began measuring noise levels in 2000.

The realignment of U.S. forces in Japan includes a plan for the U.S. forces and the Air SDF at the Kadena base to conduct joint exercises in order to promote their integration and strengthen their joint fighting capability.

A Kadena Town official in charge of base issues stressed that the town has already been suffering from noise pollution and been exposed to the danger of accidents caused by U.S. forces, stating, "We can not accept the ASDF in our town."

Mountain fires and stray bullets: Camp Hansen

The U.S. forces and Ground SDF plan to conduct joint exercises at Camp Hansen where the U.S. forces are carrying out live-fire drills. The joint training is planned to begin within this year.
Residents around the base have been plagued by explosions starting at 5 a.m. and stray bullets landing in their houses. In April last year, an unexploded shell set fire to a mountain, burning areas as close as 200m from residential areas.

On May 15, Kin Town, Ginoza Village and Onna Village which host Camp Hansen submitted to the Naha Regional Defense Facilities Administration Bureau a statement expressing their opposition to the joint exercise plan on the grounds that it will increase base burdens on the local municipalities. It stated, "Being used as a site to conduct live-fire drills, combat training, and helicopters' taking-off, landing, and circling exercises anytime during the night or day, Camp Hansen is already overused."
- Akahata, June 12, 2006

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