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Military realignment plan shifts carrier landing site to Kagoshima

Date Posted: 2011-06-16

Japan’s Defense Ministry wants to move U.S. aircraft carrier landing drills from Iwojima to an uninhabited island in Kagoshima Prefecture to the north of Okinawa.

The move, part of a bilateral plan to realign the U.S. military’s operations in Japan, would involve Self Defense Forces building a facility on Mage, about 12km west of Tanegashima, and also use the island for drills of its own to enhance security around Okinawa’s Nansei Islands, which straddle the area near China and Taiwan.

Mage Island was chosen because it’s large enough for drills, is uninhabited, and far enough away from Tanegashima Island to keep noise levels low during the several times exercises would be staged each year.

Katsuya Ogawa, Japan’s Senior Vice Defense Minister, told Kagoshima Governor Yuichiro Ito that Mage Island, administered by Nishinoomote City, would be the new carrier landing site. The governor cautioned the Defense Ministry there’s opposition from Nishinoomote and three other communities, and told Ogawa he’ll follow residents’ desires.

Carrier landing practice is now conducted on Iwojima, officially known now as Iwoto and administered by Tokyo Metropolitan Government. The two governments were to have worked out a new landing training site several years ago.

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