Atsugi noise topic of conference
TOKYO — Jet noise near a U.S. Navy facility has generated another complaint to U.S. and Japanese officials.
The Conference on Measures against Noise from Atsugi Base — holding its annual meeting Wednesday in Tokyo — decided to write Japanese and U.S. officials, asking them to reduce noise near Atsugi Naval Air Facility, Japan.
Conference members include Kanagawa’s governor, mayors and speakers of the city assemblies surrounding Atsugi. They said the group has monitored the Atsugi noise issue for years, especially with night landing practice. Atsugi houses the air wing for the USS Kitty Hawk; pilots must practice night landings to be certified before landing on the aircraft carrier.
The letter recognized that noise has decreased since the night landings were moved to Iwo Jima in 1993 but said even so, a “noiseless night” has yet to be realized. After night landing practices were moved, officials said, residents noticed a noise increase in the days before the practices.
Their letter also expressed concerns that new models of fighter jets just stationed at Atsugi will increase noise levels.
The Kanagawa prefecture study noted 38 percent of the complaints received from June through October 2002, when the Kitty Hawk was in port, came during the four weeks before the practice. Local officials asked that such pre-practice flights also be moved to Iwo Jima.
The group submitted the letter to the U.S. Embassy and Japanese agencies Wednesday afternoon and planned to give U.S. military officials letters on Thursday. The Kanagawa prefecture official was to meet the Atsugi Naval Air Facility commander Thursday.
U.S. military officials said Wednesday they cannot comment on the letter because they have not seen it.
“U.S. Forces Japan, the U.S. Navy, and the government of Japan all take noise-abatement issues very seriously,” said U.S. Forces Japan spokesman Air Force Col. Victor Warzinski. “Over the years, we have taken numerous steps to mitigate the impact of noise on Atsugi-area residents,” including increasing flying altitude, not flying between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., minimizing the use of afterburners, limiting the aircraft involved and not testing high-powered jet engines from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m.
“We strictly and faithfully abide by these noise-abatement procedures,” he said, “although on occasion operational requirements will necessitate modifications to established procedures.”