Japan has received 11 of the 17 V-22 Ospreys it ordered from Bell Boeing in 2015.

Japan has received 11 of the 17 V-22 Ospreys it ordered from Bell Boeing in 2015. (JGSDF)

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Japan’s Ministry of Defense has passed the final hurdle for stationing tiltrotor aircraft permanently on Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan’s four main islands, after local landowners agreed to sell 80 acres to facilitate the move.

The unnamed landowners’ association agreed Monday by a two-thirds vote to sell a tract of farmland along the western fence line of Kyushu Saga International Airport, a spokesman for Saga city’s base countermeasures division said by phone Tuesday.

Terms of the deal were not immediately available. A spokesman for the Kyushu Defense Bureau declined to comment Tuesday. Some government spokespeople in Japan speak to the media only on condition of anonymity.

The Defense Ministry hopes to have a new base for the Ground Self-Defense Force built there by July 2025, when the V-22 Ospreys’ temporary deployment ends at Camp Kisarazu, east of Tokyo in Chiba prefecture, the city spokesman said.

Japan has received 11 of the 17 tiltrotor aircraft it ordered from Bell Boeing in 2015. Plans for the new base accommodate all 17 Ospreys, along with 50 helicopters from Camp Metabaru, 15 miles north of Saga city, and around 750 personnel.

The facility plans call for offices, an aircraft parking apron, hangars, fuel tanks, ammunition storage facilities and two runway access roads.

The idea of basing Ospreys on Kyushu dates to discussions in 2013 with then-Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima on reducing the military presence in Okinawa prefecture. Saga was attractive due to its proximity to Japan’s Amphibious Rapid Mobile Deployment Brigade at Camp Ainoura in Sasebo, 45 miles to the west.

Discussions picked up steam in 2015 and were agreed upon by Saga prefecture Gov. Yoshinori Yamaguchi three years later.

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Keishi Koja is an Okinawa-based reporter/translator who joined Stars and Stripes in August 2022. He studied International Communication at the University of Okinawa and previously worked in education.
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Matthew M. Burke has been reporting from Okinawa for Stars and Stripes since 2014. The Massachusetts native and UMass Amherst alumnus previously covered Sasebo Naval Base and Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, for the newspaper. His work has also appeared in the Boston Globe, Cape Cod Times and other publications.

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