Japan to Build New Military Base on Uninhabited Island

  • Defensemirror.com Bureau
  • 09:12 AM, January 12, 2023
  • 884
Japan to Build New Military Base on Uninhabited Island
Mage Island in Kagoshima Prefecture @Kyodo

Japan started constructing a Self-Defense Forces base on uninhabited Mage Island in southwestern Kagoshima prefecture on Thursday.

According to an environmental assessment report made public earlier today, this four-year project in the 8 Sqkm Island will include building runways and ammunition storage facilities.

The ministry has proposed paying 2.2 billion yen ($17 million) in compensation to local fishermen who will not be able to operate during the four-year construction period and the following assessment year, according to a fishery cooperative source.

“The new base will be ‘indispensable’ for U.S. aircraft carriers to constantly operate in the Asia-Pacific region,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a news conference Thursday. "Given the most severe and complicated security environment of the postwar era, the government will build this facility and begin its operation at an early date.”

The relocation plan stated in the 2011, but the project moved forward only after Kagoshima Gov. Koichi Shiota gave the nod to the project last November. He cited "increasingly severe security environment" surrounding Japan as the reason behind approving the project.

Meanwhile, Shunsuke Yaita, mayor of Nishinoomote that will host the base, has yet to clarify his stance after winning re-election in 2021 with a campaign pledge to oppose the project, reports Mainichi.

This project will pave the way for the relocation of the practice site for U.S. fighter jets from Iwoto Island in the Pacific, about 1,250 km south of Tokyo. Atsugi base near Tokyo was the site of U.S. military’s takeoff and landing drills before, but it moved to Iwoto Island temporarily in the early 1990s due largely to noise complaints from local residents.

The fighters were all transferred from Atsugi to another U.S. military base in the western Japan city of Iwakuni by 2018, resulting in longer flights to the training site. Iwoto Island is around 1,400 km southeast of Iwakuni.

After Washington asked Tokyo to prepare a more convenient and permanent location for the drills, Mage Island, located about 400 km south of Iwakuni, became a candidate site under the U.S. military realignment accord between Japan and the United States in 2011.

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