On June 20, the Ministry of Defense revealed plans to extend the runway of the Air Self-Defense Force Tsuiki Air Base (located at Chikujo and other districts in Fukuoka Prefecture) about 300 meters to the east into the Suo-nada sea through reclamation to create a runway with an overall length of about 2,700 meters, which is as long as the U.S. Marines Corps Air Station Futenma runway in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture. The runway is for the U.S. military’s possible use in an emergency, as preparations are underway for returning the Futenma base to reduce the base-hosting burden on Okinawa. The plan was already conveyed to local communities this month. The MOD explains that when to start construction is currently under discussions with the U.S. side.
The “Japan-U.S. Roadmap for Realignment Implementation,” which the Japanese and U.S. governments endorsed in 2006, states that improvements will be made to the Tsuki facility and ASDF Nyutaharu Air Base (Shintomi, Miyazaki Prefecture) for emergency use before the return of the Futenma base as necessary.
According to the MOD, the U.S. side proposed extending the Tsuiki runway, currently about 2,400 meters long, toward the Suo-nada sea, and making it as long as the Futenma runway.
In 2007, the MOD announced plans to build more aircraft fuel tanks on the southeastern side of the base. However, it cancelled the plan due to strong opposition from local communities, which are concerned about possible accidents. The Chikujo municipal office demanded the runway be extended seaward to reduce aircraft noise.