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JASDF to share Kadena Air Base

Date Posted: 2004-09-16

The F-16 aircraft of the American Air Force may soon be sharing the runways, ramps and skies with planes belonging to the Japan Air Self Defense Force.

Reports are circulating in Tokyo that the U.S. government has suggested Kadena Air Base be converted to a joint use air base.

The plan would have the U.S. Air Force sharing the sprawling facility on Okinawa with unidentified Japanese forces. No word yet on whether the forces would be shifted from Naha Air Base, collocated with the Naha International Airport, or new Japanese units being assigned to Okinawa.

The plan, a part of a proposed realignment of American forces in Japan, also calls for Japan opening a civilian airport on Shimoji Island near Taiwan for use by U.S. military aircraft and the JASDF for joint exercises. It also wants the Shimoji airfield listed as a supplemental airfield for the two air forces.

The joint basing proposal comes at a time local Okinawa leaders, including Ginowan mayor Youichi Iha, are calling for Futenma Marine Corps Air Station to be closed, and those aviation units shifted to Kadena Air Base. American military officials have rebuffed such proposals in the past.

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