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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 March 13 - 19  > 300 US aircraft may be ordered to fly to 2 SDF bases in Kyushu in event of emergency
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2019 March 13 - 19 [POLITICS]

300 US aircraft may be ordered to fly to 2 SDF bases in Kyushu in event of emergency

March 19, 2019

Defense Minister Iwaya Takeshi, in response to Japanese Communist Party lawmaker Nihi Sohei at an Upper House Budget Committee meeting on March 18, did not deny the possibility that 300 U.S. military aircraft may be ordered to fly to Japan in the event of an emergency.

The Japanese and U.S. governments have been pushing ahead with the strengthening of the functions of Japan's Air Self-Defense Force Tsuiki base in Fukuoka and the JASDF Nyutabaru base in Miyazaki as a precondition for the return of the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma base in Okinawa so as to be able to accept a large number of U.S. aircraft in the event of an emergency.

JCP Nihi asked what exactly the strengthening of the functions will be. Defense Minister Iwaya answered, "It means having the capacity to host 12 fighters, one transport aircraft, and 200 U.S. troops."

Nihi, however, quoted Marine Corps Col. King, a member of the Futenma Implementation Group, as saying in 1997, "300 aircraft will not necessarily come to Japan, but the capacity to accept as many as 300 aircraft is necessary."

Nihi furthermore shared a brief memo dated January 23, 1996 that the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing Commander in Okinawa sent to Kurt Campbell, U.S. deputy assistant defense secretary at that time. The note suggests that 300 aircraft will use the Futenma base in an emergency situation and that alternative facilities will have the capacity to take on an equal role with the Futenma base in emergencies.

Iwaya in response said, "It will depend on the type of emergency. In accordance with the situation, we will discuss options with the U.S. side," hinting at the possible arrival of 300 U.S. aircraft. Iwaya also said that Japan received explanations from the U.S. authorities that in addition to the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Army, Navy, and Marines may be deployed to the Tsuiki and Nyutabaru air bases.

Nihi criticized the Japanese government for having explained that the number of U.S. aircraft the two bases will accept will be 12 when an emergency occurs. He said, "It would be outrageous for both governments to promote enhanced functions of the two bases while concealing the possibility of 300 aircraft being deployed there from local residents and municipalities," demanding that Japan should urge the United States to shut down the Futenma base without precondition.

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