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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 December 23 - 2021 January 5  > Citizens will support mayoral candidate opposing militarization of Mageshima Island
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2020 December 23 - 2021 January 5 [POLITICS]

Citizens will support mayoral candidate opposing militarization of Mageshima Island

December 23, 2020
Magashima Island in Nishinoomote City in Kagoshima Prefecture has been at the center of the controversial plan of relocating field carrier landing practice (FCLP) exercises by U.S. carrier-born aircraft. Under the plan, the entire island will be a gigantic Japan-U.S. joint military base equipped with a 2,450-meter-long main runway, an additional 1,830-meter-long runway, port facilities, training areas, unloading facilities, ammunition storages, and aprons, according to Japan's Defense Ministry.

Nearly 30,000 people live on Tanegashima Island located only 12 kilometers from the unpopulated island of Mageshima.

The Defense Ministry designates Mageshima Island as a "training and supply base for southwest island defense" with China's actions in the East China Sea in mind. In December 2019, the government of Japan, without local consent, purchased the island from the island's owner for about 16 billion yen, more than threefold the appraisal value.

The ministry estimates that landing practices by U.S. and SDF aircraft which produce excessive noise will take place about 150 days a year. In addition, the ministry says that FCLP exercises may continue until three o'clock in the morning. Local residents were stunned by these pronouncements. A woman in the hotel industry in Nishinoomote City said in concern, "The plan will make Tanegashima 'an island of noise pollution' which will keep tourists away."

In Nishinoomote City, a mayoral election will be held on January 31, 2021. Incumbent candidate Yaita Shunsuke stands in opposition to the militarization of Mageshima Island, and has earned the support and trust of many residents. The local Japanese Communist Party also plays a part in the growing citizens' movement opposing the plan and aims to secure its two incumbent seats in the city assembly election which will be held on the same day.

Past related article:
> Nishinoomote City mayor opposes planned relocation of FCLP to nearby island [October 8, 2020]
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