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HOME  > Past issues  > 2016 July 13 - 19  > Japanese and US gov’ts seek to make Iwakuni base ‘strongest US military airbase’ in East Asia
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2016 July 13 - 19 [US FORCES]

Japanese and US gov’ts seek to make Iwakuni base ‘strongest US military airbase’ in East Asia

July 14, 2016
The Japanese and U.S. governments plan to increase the number of U.S. military aircraft stationed at the U.S. Iwakuni base (Iwakuni City, Yamaguchi Prefecture) to 130 as part of the U.S. military realignment project. Local peace activists have expressed their concern that if the plan is implemented, the Iwakuni base will become the largest U.S. military airbase in East Asia.

Yamaguchi Prefectural Peace Committee Chair Yoshioka Mitsunori, 70, said, “The planned realignment project will turn the Iwakuni base into a stronghold of two U.S. assaults forces: a U.S. Marine Corps’ aviation unit and a U.S. Navy carrier strike group.”

Currently, at the U.S. Marine Corps Iwakuni Air Station, a Marine aviation squadron is stationed.

Under the ongoing realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, in 2014, 15 mid-air refueling aircraft (KC130) were relocated from Okinawa to the Iwakuni base. In future, 59 carrier-based military jets including FA18 fighters, whose mother ship is the nuclear-powered supercarrier USS Ronald Reagan, will be moved to Iwakuni from the U.S. Atsugi base in Kanagawa Prefecture which borders Tokyo.

The U.S. government has decided to deploy the state-of-the-art F-35B stealth fighters, which also can take off vertically, to the Iwakuni base in January 2017. This is the first deployment of this aircraft outside the United States.

With these measures, the number of U.S. military aircraft stationed at the Iwakuni base will increase to about 130.

An aviation unit of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force shares the Iwakuni base with the U.S. forces. This MSDF unit is assigned to missions related to information gathering and minesweeping. Yoshioka said, “Under the so-called war legislation, at the Iwakuni base, the MSDF would work closely with the U.S. military.”

Past related article:
> Relocation of Futenma base functions will impose further burdens on Okinawans: JCP Nihi [February 7, 2014]
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