YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Jet noise in the residential area around Naval Air Facility Atsugi prompted local communities to ask the U.S. and Japanese governments to restrict landing practice to Iwo Jima this spring.

This is not a unique occurrence — a letter of protest is submitted every time the Navy schedules a “flight carrier landing practice” in the populated area south of Tokyo, officials say.

“It is our strong wish to transfer night landing practice completely from Atsugi base since it is located in a densely-populated area where many residents have been suffering from noise problems everyday,” the letter said, according to a Kanagawa prefecture press release.

The prefecture and seven cities signed the letter and sent it to U.S. Forces Japan, Commander Naval Forces Japan, the Atsugi base, and foreign and defense ministries.

The letter urged a full-time move to the island of Iwo Jima, where practice is also held. This year’s practice is scheduled for Iwo Jima May 2-11 and NAF Atsugi May 8-11, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day.

But while the Navy “appreciates” hearing from the communities on this matter, there are several factors limiting a full-time move to Iwo Jima, according to CNFJ.

These include distance, Iwo Jima weather conditions and the large numbers of pilots needing to be carrier qualified, according to a CNFJ press release.

The U.S. and Japanese governments agreed last year to conduct a study on finding a permanent landing practice facility by July 2009.

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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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