National

Japan asserts importance of one-month deployment of U.S. F-22 fighters

Kyodo

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said Tuesday the ongoing temporary deployment of the U.S. military’s advanced stealth F-22 fighter jets to a base in Okinawa is a move that will benefit the Japan-U.S. alliance.

“As the Defense Ministry, we believe this will contribute to the strengthening of the deterrence force of the Japan-U.S. alliance as well as to the safety of our country and the Indo-Pacific region,” Onodera told reporters.

Fourteen F-22s will be deployed at the U.S. Kadena Air Base until the end of June, Onodera said, adding that 10 of them had arrived by May 30. The deployment, to last about a month, is viewed as a way to continue putting pressure on North Korea over its nuclear program ahead of the U.S.-North Korea summit scheduled for next week.

But some people in Okinawa, which hosts the bulk of U.S. military facilities in Japan, have protested the temporary deployment, complaining about noise pollution.

Onodera said his ministry will continue to seek cooperation from the United States to reduce the noise and other local burdens as much as possible.

According to the U.S. Pacific Air Forces, the fighter jets are normally assigned to a squadron at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska. It is the first time since 2014 that they have been stationed at the Kadena base.