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SECURITY

Over 8,000 takeoffs and landings at Yokota Air Base in past six months

  • October 23, 2020
  • , Tokyo Shimbun , p. 1
  • JMH Translation

By Naoko Taketani

 

Takeoffs and landings by military aircraft at the U.S. military’s Yokota Air Base (located in Fussa City and other municipalities in Tokyo) in the April–September period numbered 8,298, the highest number ever. This is also the first time for the number to exceed 8,000 in a six-month period since fiscal 2000 [when statistics started to be compiled]. In recent years, takeoffs and landings have been rising continuously, and experts have cited the increasing intensity of the U.S. confrontation with China as a factor behind the rise.

 

At two locations in the city, Fussa City measures the noise from military aircraft takeoffs and landings and also counts the number of takeoffs and landings. Former Fussa City Assembly member Kiichi Okutomi (71) has compiled the data released by Fussa City since fiscal 2000. At the measurement point on the south side of Yokota Air Base, 8,298 takeoffs and landings were recorded in the first half of this fiscal year.

 

To date, the highest half-year number was 7,930, which was recorded in the second half of fiscal 2000. Since then, the figure has trended below 7,000 but then increased from fiscal 2018 when five Osprey were deployed to the base. The figure rose to 7,158 in the second half of fiscal 2019.

 

The number of takeoffs and landings by military helicopters, including Ospreys, is also increasing. At the noise measurement point in Mizuho Town on the north side of the base, the number did not exceed 1,000 a year after fiscal 2005, but then it rose to 1,385 in fiscal 2018 and 1,047 in fiscal 2019 after the Ospreys were deployed. This fiscal year, the number rose to 1,164 in the first six months alone.

 

A spokesperson for Yokota Air Base refrained from commenting on the recent figures but explained that “local flights are increasing because access to other training facilities is restricted due to COVID-19 countermeasures.”

 

Yasuo Koshiba (74), a military intelligence analyst in Akishima City, said, “With the United States beefing up its stance on China, functions have been divided up among the various U.S. military bases in Japan. Yokota Air Base has traditionally mainly operated only transport aircraft, but now fighters and other aircraft fly in from other bases.”

 

Mieko Takahashi (78), representative of the Nishitama Association for the Removal of Yokota Air Base, said, “Exercises are intensifying not only at Yokota but at the other bases as well. I want people to know the actual situation.” 

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