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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 February 14 - 20  > Local residents voice concern over gov’t plan to set up missile defense facility in their community
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2018 February 14 - 20 [SDF]

Local residents voice concern over gov’t plan to set up missile defense facility in their community

February 15, 2018
The Abe Cabinet intends to set up facilities for a ground-based missile defense system in two locations in Japan. Akahata on February 15 reported on concerns expressed by local residents at the candidate sites.

The Abe government seeks to install the Aegis Ashore anti-missile system in a Ground Self-Defense Force training field in Akita, and another location in Yamaguchi. This system is a ground-based version of a system based on Aegis-equipped naval vessels.

Sasaki Yushin, who lives near the GSDF training field in Akita, criticized the government for choosing his area as the candidate site for a missile defense facility, saying, “No consideration was given to possible damage to the natural environment nearby and local residents’ living environment.” The GSDF training site is located in a residential area with a high school and an elementary school being just across the road. There are also a childcare center, a kindergarten, and welfare facilities in the same area.

Sasaki, a co-head of a residents’ group studying issues regarding the Aegis Ashore deployment, said that currently, the GSDF gives local people an advance notice of training exercises in the training field, but this notification procedure, which was initiated in response to demands by a residents’ movement, may be abolished in the future. Sasaki pointed out that once the missile defense system is installed at the facility, the U.S. military would be involved in the operation of the system and as a result the GSDF could stop providing information to residents.

Kosaka Shoichi, who also lives near the GSDF field, organized a door-to-door survey of the neighborhood in order to find out what neighbors think about the planned Aegis Ashore installment in the community. According to Kosaka, many respondents expressed concerns by saying, “the training area may become an enemy target” and “the GSDF may put people around the facility under surveillance in order to ensure site security”.

Kosaka pointed out that in particular, many neighbors are anxious about the dangers associated with the emission of radar waves from the planned missile defense facility. Radar systems send out powerful radio waves, therefore, in the case of a U.S. radar facility near Akita Prefecture, its 6-km radius is designated as off-limits to aircraft. Kosaka said that within the 6-km radius of the planned missile defense facility are the prefectural government office, the prefecture’s busiest train station, and hospitals. He expressed his concern that the radar waves may hamper the flights of ambulance helicopters.

Omi Yukiyoshi, another local resident, said, “Missile defense facilities are the first to be attacked in the event of war. Prime Minister Abe Shinzo is turning Japan into a war-fighting nation by deceiving people. He even intends to use people as a tool to supposedly protect the U.S.” Omi stressed that it is unacceptable to set up the missile interception facility in his community.
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