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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 December 18 - 24  > Movement against possible US touch-and-go landings and takeoffs on small island spreads even to conservatives
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2019 December 18 - 24 [US FORCES]

Movement against possible US touch-and-go landings and takeoffs on small island spreads even to conservatives

December 22, 2019
The opposition movement against the government attempt to construct facilities for U.S. field carrier landing practice (FCLP) exercises on the small island of Mageshima, Nishinoomote City in Kagoshima, has begun to spread among local people, even to conservative residents, irrespective of differences in their political beliefs.

The Defense Ministry in November of this year reached an agreement with the largest island owner and Tokyo-based developer "Taston Airport" to buy the island for about 16 billion yen, a threefold increase from the appraisal value of 4.5 billion yen, in order to provide the U.S. military with an onshore runway so that U.S. pilots can repeat touch-and-go drills using the runway as a mock aircraft carrier deck.

In opposition to this attempt, local residents and groups as well as Mageshima islanders formed a liaison council in the same month.

The council is comprised of 51 organizations, including the Nishinoomote Article 9 Association. They are planning to make petition the mayors of the neighboring islands of Tanegashima and Okushima, the Kagoshima prefectural governor, and the Defense Minister. They said they will start a campaign to collect signatures from more than half (or 7,602) of the Nishinoomote population in the coming year and will also take to the streets to protest against the FCLP base construction on Mageshima Island.

Miyake Kimito, a doctor in Yakushima, will be the leader of the newly-formed liaison council. He said, "We'd like to respond to all residents who want to do something but have no means to protest."

The Nishinoomote City Assembly has expressed its opposition many times by adopting resolutions opposing the government plan to purchase the island. City Mayor Yaita Shunsuke has also consistently been calling for the use of Mageshima Island for peaceful purposes only. In the latest city assembly session, the mayor stated, "It would be inappropriate to use the island for FCLP."

"I'm prepared to resign from the head of Liberal Democratic Party members' group in protest," said Kihara Koshi who heads the LDP city assemblypersons' group in Nishinoomote City. While most LDP assemblypersons supported the FCLP facility construction, Kihara has been opposing it.

Uragashira Chogoro, 81, who lives in Tanegashima 12km from Mageshima and whose father was a fisherman, said, "My father often told me that Mageshima is an island of treasures with many rare shells and large lobsters. If U.S. fighters come to Mageshima, my land, Tanegashima, will also become noisy. I want to continue to live on a nice, quiet island."

Past related article:
> Gov’t accepts supper inflated price tag of 16 billion yen for planned cite for US military aircraft training exercises [December 1, 2019]
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