Mayors from cities hosting Atsugi Naval Air Facility urged the base this week to take measures to minimize jet noise.

Yamato City Mayor Kimiyasu Tsuchiya met with Capt. Reed Ekstrom, Atsugi’s commander, on Tuesday, claiming that complaints from local residents have risen.

“We will take your word in consideration,” Ekstrom said, and “do our best to minimize noise as much as possible,” according to Yoshihiro Shimizu, the base’s host nations relations officer. Ekstrom added that the base follows established guidelines for all flight operations around Atsugi.

Ayase City Mayor Kazuyoshi Mikami also urged the base to take jet-noise measures in a Monday meeting with Ekstrom.

Both mayors said noise levels and resident complaints increased dramatically after the USS Kitty Hawk returned to Yokosuka Naval Base in May, according to city officials.

Compared to the same period following the Kitty Hawk’s return in May 2003, Ayase City officials say they saw a 35 percent increase in the number of times noise was detected south of the runway, where it’s the noisiest. The city measures noise levels at six locations and counts how many times they exceed 70 decibels for five seconds. Officials also noticed increases in noise levels above 90 and 100 decibels.

Mikami also asked Ekstrom to resolve traffic jams at Atsugi’s west gate, caused by construction to the main gate, according to an Ayase City base liaison official.

Meanwhile, an official from Japan’s Defense Facilities Administration Agency said Wednesday it plans to review 80 locations around Atsugi, which receives government subsidies for installing soundproof walls in houses. The noise situation in the area has changed over the last 16 years, the official added, and new noise test findings are now taken into account.

The agency will present its findings to the local governments in August and finalize any new plan by the beginning of next year. DFAA acts as a go-between and takes measures to promote harmony between the defense facilities and local communities.

Night-landing practice

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Night-landing practice for the USS Kitty Hawk’s fighter pilots will be held July 12-16 at Atsugi Naval Air Facility and Iwo Jima from 6 to 10 p.m. each night, the Navy announced Wednesday.

In an effort to limit the noise concerns of Japanese residents living near Atsugi, officials hope to conduct most of the operations at Iwo Jima, according to a Navy news release.

If bad weather or other problems preclude the training at Iwo Jima, the practices will be spread among other bases, including Misawa, Yokota, Atsugi and Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station.

Night-landing practice has historically been one of the thornier issues between the Navy and Japanese citizens because of the noise it generates. Numerous complaints have been filed over the years, and the Navy has responded by making adjustments in the training’s various aspects.

— Stars and Stripes

author picture
Hana Kusumoto is a reporter/translator who has been covering local authorities in Japan since 2002. She was born in Nagoya, Japan, and lived in Australia and Illinois growing up. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and previously worked for the Christian Science Monitor’s Tokyo bureau.

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