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Inamine tosses his support for Kadena Air Base restrictions

Date Posted: 2005-09-17

Okinawa’s governor thinks “it is necessary to obtain the understanding of the local municipalities” on Kadena Air Base operations.

Governor Keiichi Inamine wants to see a new base use agreement that essentially restricts flight and other operations at the sprawling air base. Inamine says he wants to support the Kadena Town mayor in his efforts to reshape U.S. military operations in the town wrapped around the base.

Mayor Tokujitsu Miyagi is spearheading the effort to revamp the agreements between his town and the military. One critical issue is noise abatement, as leaders want the Air Force to reduce its early morning jet take offs and landings.

Inamine called the U.S. flight activity “lacking consideration of the residents,” and called it “simply unforgivable.” He pledged to work to apply pressure on the military to stop air operations during hours when residents are normally sleeping.

Meanwhile, the Okinawa Prefecture Government is taking steps of its own, working with the Defense Facilities Administration Bureau in Naha.

The Director of Culture and Environment and his Base and Disaster Prevention chief are petitioning the DFAB to press for a stringent noise abatement agreement. They’re also asking for notification of Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps flight patterns and landing / takeoff routines. The OPG maintains that Kadena excessively exceeds environmental noise standards, saying noise often increases to 30 times the allowable level.

The DFAB says it will relay the concerns to the U.S. Government, and to the Defense Facilities Administration Agency, which has some oversight in the case. Flight operations have intensified at America’s largest overseas air base in the wake of increased terrorism prevention activities.

A 2004 study showed aircraft noise is increasing, while DFAB discounted the information. DFAB says the U.S. is sticking to the 1996 Joint Japan Committee Agreement over restrictions on aircraft noise at both Kadena and nearby Futenma Marine Corps Air Base. Those restrictions include limitations on flights between 10pm and 6am.

Yoshihisa Iguchi, the DAFB’s operations division director, says in addition to nighttime flight restrictions, there are others on special holidays. Iguchi says “the U.S. side is observing the restrictions”, but the Prefecture officials contend engine sounds are still occurring often during late night and early morning hours.

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