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HOME  > Past issues  > 2024 April 24 - May 7  > Workers exploited to enable early completion of US military FCLP training site on Mageshima island
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2024 April 24 - May 7 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Workers exploited to enable early completion of US military FCLP training site on Mageshima island

April 27, 2024
On Mageshima Island, a remote island in Kagoshima Prefecture, the construction of a new base of the Self-Defense Forces is proceeding at full tilt in order to relocate U.S. field carrier aircraft landing practice (FCLP) drills to the island. On the other hand, the workers on site are forced to work under harsh working conditions in order to enable the U.S. military to use the new base as early as possible.

Attracted by job advertisements on job search sites, such as these: “Let’s work on an island closest to space!” and “On your days off, you can enjoy fishing and other leisure activities!”, many workers came to Mageshima to work at the construction site. Mageshima is about 12 kilometers away from Tanegashima Island where the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s rocket-launch facility is located.

“But the reality is completely different,” a worker said.

According to this worker, the uninhabited island of Mageshima has no basic infrastructure for normal daily life. Workers have no option but to eat ready-to-eat frozen foods every day. Drinking water and other necessities are transported to the island by sea. In the case where sea transportation is unavailable due to bad weather, cuts in water supply may continue for several days and the weekly doctor visit may be cancelled. Workers feel that they may not receive proper medical care in the event of an accident and sudden illness because even if a medical helicopter comes, it will find no place to land. When an accident occurs, workers are often instructed by their supervisors to keep quiet.

The Defense Ministry in January 2023 commenced the construction of the new SDF base before the environmental impact assessment was made. It plans to complete the project in four years. At the new base equipped with two runways, 2,450 meters and 1,830 meters long, the U.S. military will regularly conduct the FCLP drills.

Akahata recently made an inquiry to the Defense Ministry about workers’ harsh working conditions. In response, the ministry only said, “To provide appropriate working conditions in accordance with labor laws is the responsibility of construction companies which are contracted with the ministry. We have nothing to do with the matter.”

The plan to construct an SDF base on Mageshima Island was agreed upon by the Japanese and U.S. governments in response to the U.S. demand for the relocation of the FCLP drills. Workers are being exploited in order to ready the new base for the U.S. military as soon as possible.

Past related article:
> Rally held in protest against start of SDF base construction for FCLP relocation to Mageshima Island [January 12 & 13, 2023]
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