Repositioning of U.S. Forces Japan affects 68 prefectures and municipalities throughout Japan, including Okinawa, Tokyo, Kanagawa, Yamaguchi and Aomori.
Projects include relocating the Japan Air-Defense Command to Yokota Air Base, moving the carrier air wing from Naval Air Facility Atsugi to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni and sending 8,000 Okinawa-based Marines and their families to Guam.
The United States and Japan agreed last year to share the estimated $10.27 billion cost for moving Marines to Guam, with Tokyo paying 59 percent.
Japan’s Diet passed a bill May 23 to facilitate implementation of the realignment plan. The law will enable the government to provide subsidies to local municipalities that accept new military facilities and air drills. The communities would be paid incrementally in four stages:
Acceptance of a plan.Start of an environmental survey.Start of construction.Completion of construction.As of May, 47 of the 68 local communities agreed to host new facilities or training, said Iwao Kitahara, director general of the Defense Facilities Administration Agency.
In mainland Japan, Iwakuni city is one of the communities that hasn’t given its approval for the deal, with overwhelming opposition shown by the residents in last year’s nonbinding referendum.
DFAA has held 29 meetings with local residents to explain how the relocation will affect them, according to Kitahara.
Residents’ main concerns are jet noise, safety and the added incidents caused by 4,000 more servicemembers and families that are expected to move to the base.
Kitahara said he has explained to residents in the Iwakuni area that a new runway is being built about half a mile off shore.
He said a study conducted by the agency shows noise damage will lessen in most areas and should be safer as jets will take off over the ocean rather than the mainland.
“Our staff is prepared to go and explain anytime,” Kitahara said. “We will continue to explain.”