U.S. flight training area off Okinawa opened to civilian use

According to an agreement between the Japanese and U.S. governments, a designated U.S. military training are over the ocean east of Okinawa would be partly opened to civilians to use.

According to the agreement signed yesterday, the so called Hotel-Hotel training are would be open to civilian vessels on days that the U.S. military does not train there. It has been a long-standing hope of Okinawan fishermen to have an access to the area as catches elsewhere have diminished recently.

The area covers 3,600 square kilometers, and according to the agreement some 2,300 square kilometers will be opened.

Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden agreed to the opening of the area when they met in Tokyo in December, as one of the measures to reduce the burden of Okinawa for hosting the U.S. bases.

“We will continue to meet as many demands as possible of the people in Okinawa for measures to reduce their burden,” Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said at a press conference after concluding the agreement on Thursday.