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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 April 25 - May 8  > US Forces in Japan conduct parachute drills in populated areas in contrast to parachute training in US
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2018 April 25 - May 8 [US FORCES]

US Forces in Japan conduct parachute drills in populated areas in contrast to parachute training in US

April 25, 2018
The U.S. military in Japan frequently conducts parachute landing drills at the U.S. Yokota base located in a densely-populated area in Tokyo. In contrast, on the U.S. mainland, the military carries out that kind of exercise in a training area which is 81 times larger than the Yokota base.

Earlier this month, during parachute landing exercises, a parachutist accidentally dropped an extra parachute onto the premise of a junior high school near the Yokota base. This accident again highlighted how dangerous it is to carry out such drills in the middle of residential areas.

The U.S. Yokota base has an area of just over seven square kilometers, including buildings, facilities, and runway. In the eleven municipalities surrounding the base, the population density is roughly 2,400 persons per square kilometer on average. This means that U.S. military personnel parachute onto a small area surrounded by densely-populated areas.

The situation is totally different on the U.S. mainland. A typical example of the difference is Fort Bragg in North Carolina where many troops engaging in parachuting drills are stationed. It has a training field covering an area of 578 square kilometers or 81 times larger than the Yokota base. In the six counties near the base, the average population density is 79 persons per square kilometer, one-thirtieth of 2,400 persons, the density of populated areas near the Yokota base.

The U.S. military began to conduct large-scale parachuting drills at the Yokota base in January 2012. At that time, around 100 U.S. soldiers took part in the exercises and some local residents wondered, “Has a war started?” at the sight of the parachutists. Since the U.S. announced its Asia pivot policy, the number of parachute drills has increased, especially ones involving troops first to be dispatched to the front in the event of emergency such as Marine Corps’ reconnaissance units and the Army’s “Green Beret” special forces.

In addition, many U.S. military aircraft fly to the Yokota base from other U.S. bases in Japan, Hawaii, and the U.S. mainland. In early April, U.S. Air Force special mission aircraft CV-22 Ospreys came to the Yokota base for the first time ever. These moves to strengthen the function of the Yokota base have fueled local residents’ concerns over noise pollution and possible accidents.

Past related articles:
> US military parachute falls on junior high school grounds in Tokyo [April 11 and 12, 2018]
> Yokota base holds practical parachute drills [December 24, 2013]
> US Army conducts parachute training in Tokyo [January 12 & 13, 2012]
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