• Jiji

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The Defense Ministry on Friday released the layout of a new Self-Defense Forces base it plans to build on Mage Island off Kagoshima Prefecture.

State Minister of Defense Tomohiro Yamamoto visited Shunsuke Yaita, mayor of Nishinoomote, which oversees the island, the same day to discuss the plan.

The base, which will be manned by 150 to 200 service members, will host field carrier landing practices by the U.S. military once or twice a year. The FCLP drills are usually held on the remote island of Iwoto, formerly known as Iwojima, which is administratively part of Tokyo.

The SDF will use the new base to host takeoff and landing practice for ship-based F-35B fighter jets and drills involving the V-22, the controversial tilt-rotor transport aircraft better known as the Osprey.

The base will have two runways, a port and a hangar.

Yaita urged the state minister to prioritize Nishinoomote residents’ wishes during construction, expressing concerns over potential noise pollution.

The ministry will begin briefings for Nishinoomote residents this month. Procedures for an environmental impact assessment are expected to start in autumn, with construction seen taking about four years.

The base is also expected to serve as a refueling and maintenance hub for defending the Nansei island chain as China continues to increase its maritime presence.

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