Atsugi aircraft transfer faces delay


The planned transfer of 59 carrier-based aircraft currently deployed to U.S. Naval Air Facility Atsugi in Kanagawa Prefecture to U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Yamaguchi Prefecture may be delayed beyond the initially set deadline of 2014, according to sources.

Slow progress in building the necessary facilities has been blamed for the possible delay, the sources said Tuesday.

Parliamentary Vice Defense Minister Akira Sato will brief the affected municipalities, the sources said.

The Japanese and U.S. governments agreed in May 2006 to transfer the aircraft from Atsugi to Iwakuni by 2014.

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters in Higashimatsushima, Miyagi Prefecture, that the ministry is working to transfer the aircraft as early as possible.