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Residents and officials in local communities are objecting to Navy carrier jet landing practices conducted the past week at Naval Air Facility Atsugi.

Kanagawa Gov. Shigefumi Matsuzawa and seven local mayors last week submitted a joint letter to U.S. military and Japanese government officials stating that the landings were “totally unacceptable since it is something that adds the sufferings of residents who are already plagued by noise damages.”

They also met the base commander, Capt. Justin Cooper, Monday night to urge him to halt the practice. The landing practices concluded Tuesday night as scheduled.

The prefectural office and surrounding communities received a total of about 800 complaints over the three days of training, according to prefecture officials.

The governor, who observed the practice Monday night, said he was “surprised” at how loud it was and “understood the complaint was brought up from a resident saying that a child had convulsion,” said prefecture base affairs official Nobuo Horie.

The Navy notified Japanese officials May 10 that landing practices by aircraft such as F/A-18 Hornets would be conducted at Atsugi on May 10, 14 and 15 due to bad weather at Iwo Jima. It was the first time in seven years that jets practiced at Atsugi, Horie said.

Historically, pilots conduct refresher training at an airstrip on Iwo Jima. The training usually consists of a seven-day cycle.

The Navy says it takes noise issues very seriously. During the Atsugi training jets flew at twice the altitude they fly at Iwo Jima, Atsugi spokesman Brian Naranjo said.

“There’s no denying that the jets are loud,” Naranjo said. The Navy also said that the training is critical to maintaining pilot proficiency and combat readiness.

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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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