Support our mission

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — In an effort to reduce noise complaints on the island, the U.S. has agreed to move Marine Corps fighter jet training planned for this month to Guam, U.S. Forces Japan officials said Wednesday.

The change will mean 20 F/A-18 Hornets and about 400 personnel based at Iwakuni, Japan, will train at Andersen Air Base on Guam throughout the rest of October instead of Kadena Air Base, where more than 22,000 local residents are suing the Japanese government over U.S. military air traffic.

The units from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni are scheduled to begin air-to-air and air-to-ground training at Andersen on Friday, the base public affairs office said. The move is the most recent example of the U.S. and Japan trying to reduce complaints over noise around bases on the island and is part of an aviation training relocation plan set in motion last year to lessen air drills and noise.

The two countries agreed to the Guam move on Friday during a meeting of a joint committee that oversees a planned military realignment here, USFJ said.

More relocations of Okinawa training to other areas, including U.S. territories, could occur in the future, according to both governments.

Two to three more training events are expected to be relocated before March, and Japan has agreed to pay 75 percent of the cost to move them, the country’s Ministry of Defense said Tuesday.

Residents in communities surrounding Kadena Air Base have long complained about training by visiting U.S. military units such as those that were scheduled to fly in from Iwakuni this month, especially when some training of Okinawa-based units has already been shifted off the island to reduce noise.

Frustration has led lead to civil lawsuits against the Japanese government, which supports the U.S. presence on the island.

This month, a Japanese court will hear a class-action noise lawsuit filed by the more than 22,000 residents living near Kadena who are demanding $544 million in compensation and suspension of air operations at the air base during early and late hours.

The lawsuit is the third attempt to ease noise pollution at the air base through litigation.

In the past rulings, courts have granted damages to the plaintiffs and ordered the Tokyo government to pay compensation. But they have struck down demands to suspend flight activities at night and early morning, saying the judiciary has no authority over the U.S.-Japan military treaty that governs flight activities at Kadena.

Stripes in 7

around the web

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up