Japan and the United States agreed Thursday to have two Japanese air-traffic controllers spend a month at the U.S. Kadena Air Base in Okinawa Prefecture from mid-October to undergo training, the Transport Ministry said.

During the training, to start Oct. 16, the Japanese will observe air-traffic control operations at the central Okinawan base but will not take part in operations.

The agreement follows an earlier accord made under the Japan-U.S. Joint Committee on the Status of Forces Agreement in June, which was in line with a U.S. decision in March to return control of the radar system at the Kadena base to Japan, the ministry said.

The system controls all civilian and U.S. military flights within an 80-km radius of the base.

Under another Japan-U.S. agreement, signed when the U.S. returned Okinawa in 1972, the radar system was to be operated by the U.S. military for a provisional period.

Japan has been calling on the U.S. to return control of the radar since November, when a malfunction in the system caused disruptions to commercial flights to and from Naha airport in the prefecture.

On Nov. 12, a worker accidentally cut a cable in the radar system, affecting more than 150 civilian flights. The problem took 27 hours to repair.

Yamato severs ties

YOKOHAMA (Kyodo) Yamato city in Kanagawa Prefecture has decided to sever its friendship ties with the U.S. Navy after it ignored the city’s request to suspend night-landing drills at its Atsugi base in the prefecture, municipal officials said Thursday.

The officials said the city, about 50 km southwest of Tokyo, has called for the transfer of all the base’s night landing exercises to the remote Japanese island of Iwojima.

But the Navy conducted the night-landing drills between Sept. 5 and Sept. 8 at Atsugi base, part of which is in Yamato, and has also been engaged in weeklong drills since Monday, officials said.

The city has received more than 550 complaints from local residents, according to officials.

As a concrete measure, Yamato will not invite U.S. Navy officials to a torchlight performance of traditional Noh drama to be staged outdoors in October, breaking its tradition of inviting them every year, they said.

Misawa city in Aomori Prefecture also severed ties with the U.S. Navy over drills at its nearby Misawa base.

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