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Japan nixes U.S. request for more runway approaches

Date Posted: 2006-12-08

Approach lights to runways at the proposed new airfield slated for Camp Schwab will not be the way American officials would like.

Japan this week agreed only to permit airfield approach lights at the seaward ends of the two runways designed for the new airfield near Nago, instead of at both ends of both runways. The U.S. military wanted to have approach lights on both ends of the runways to permit training operations, and for emergencies.

The U.S. has agreed to the Japanese decision, while the two sides agreed it may be necessary in cases of emergencies for military planes to fly over residential areas. The government-approved plan has approach control lights at the south end of the 1,800-meter runway closest to land, and at the northern end of the outer 1,800-meter runway. The runways will be on the eastern tip of Cape Henoko, at Camp Schwab. The agreement was hammered out in meetings between foreign and defense ministry officials of the two countries in Tokyo.

Nago and Japanís Defense Ministry earlier had approved the V-shape runway plan, with runways extending into Oura Bay. The airfield is to be built before 2014, and will serve all aircraft except jet fighters. Okinawa Prefecture has yet to agree to the plan, but officials are optimistic newly elected governor Hirokazu Nakaima will ultimately concur with the plan.

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