• Kyodo

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Iwakuni Mayor Yoshihiko Fukuda on Friday said he would support a plan to bring dozens of U.S. carrier-based aircraft to U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Yamaguchi Prefecture under an agreement reached between Tokyo and Washington on the realignment of U.S. forces in 2006.

Fukuda said he decided to accept the plan in light of the tense security situation involving North Korea and vowed to ensure a favorable living environment for residents near the U.S. air base, which is set to become one of the largest in East Asia in terms of number of aircraft.

The carrier-based aircraft will come from the U.S. Naval Air Facility Atsugi in Kanagawa Prefecture. They are attached to the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, which is forward-deployed at the U.S. Navy’s Yokosuka base in the same prefecture.

Sixty-one aircraft, including F/A-18 fighters, will be transferred to Iwakuni air base in stages through next May, raising the number of aircraft stationed there to about 120 — or about the same number stationed at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa.

The shift is intended to address noise problems at the Atsugi base, which is situated in an urban area.

In Tokyo, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga welcomed the mayor’s decision at a news conference and said the government is willing to support the city’s efforts to address noise pollution and to deter criminal offenses involving U.S. military personnel.

The development came after Fukuda said he had been able to achieve “certain results” in his talks with the central government on increasing the subsidies granted in relation to the realignment of U.S. forces.

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