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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 March 7 - 13  > Relocation of Kadena-based F-15 training exercises only spreads danger
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2007 March 7 - 13 [US FORCES]

Relocation of Kadena-based F-15 training exercises only spreads danger

March 6, 2007
With U.S. F-15 fighter jets based at the U.S. Kadena Air Base in Okinawa flying in, a Japan-U.S. joint training exercise began at Air Self-Defense Force Tsuiki Base in Fukuoka Prefecture on March 5, bringing about increasing noise pollution and danger to local communities.

As part of the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, the Japanese and U.S. governments decided to relocate U.S. fighter training exercises from the U.S. Kadena, Misawa (Aomori Pref.), and Iwakuni (Yamaguchi Pref.) bases to ASDF Chitose (Hokkaido), Misawa, Hyakuri (Ibaraki Pref.), Komatsu (Ishikawa Pref.), Tsuiki, and Nyutabaru (Miyazaki Pref.) bases.

The government claims that the relocation will reduce burdens of local residents living in the vicinity of the Kadena base.

At the Kadena base, however, in addition to some 100 aircraft, including F-15s, deployed there, a number of U.S. aircraft are flying in from other areas of Japan and from the United States. Furthermore, the ASDF will use the Kadena base jointly with the U.S. Air Force as part of the U.S. military realignment.

The noise pollution at the base obviously will not be offset by the temporary relocation of training exercises. Even the Japanese government says it is difficult to tell how many times take offs and landings at the base will decrease from the current level of 70,000 a year.

The situation at the Iwakuni and the Misawa is the same as at Kadena.

Aging F-15 fighter jets, deployed in the 1970s, have repeatedly been involved in accidents such as crashes into the sea and runway overruns. It is a question of when an aircraft crash will occur in residential areas.

The Japanese government even hinted at the possibility that exercises of the state-of-the-art F-22 stealth fighter jets will also be relocated to mainland Japan. In fact, fighter jet units regularly fly in to Kadena from the U.S. Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska, where F-22s will be deployed. A U.S. F-22 unit commander said, “Joint exercises with the SDF will be beneficial.”

The exercise relocation in the form of Japan-U.S. joint exercises is aimed at expanding fighter jet drills, integration of operations with the SDF, and increasing access to SDF bases and surrounding airspaces, and not at easing base burdens of residents in hosting municipalities.

The Japanese government presses local governments hosting military bases to accept U.S. military realignment plans in return for subsidies. Some mayors of municipalities hosting bases where exercises will be relocated have accepted the plan.

However, the assembly of Chikujo Town that hosts the Tsuiki base adopted a resolution in opposition to the relocation. In other municipalities where exercises will be relocated, residents are waging opposition campaigns and assemblies have passed resolutions in opposition to the plan.
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