Peace Time: December 7, 1999

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On the night of 11-12 Nov, a construction worker cut a cable on the US Air Force base at Kadena (on the island of Okinawa, Japan), shutting down the Radar Approach Control system (RapCon). Because they were operating without a radar, the US military air traffic controllers slowed down incoming and outgoing flights. This included civilian flights at neighboring Naha International Airport, which the Kadena air traffic station controls. The Japanese are furious because 10 flights had to be canceled and 150 were delayed, and are now demanding that Kadena Air Force Base turn over air traffic control for both Naha and Kadena to Japanese controllers. The US has refused, so far. --Stephen V Cole


The local government of Okinawa remains determined to convince the US military to pack up and leave. The national government at Tokyo wants the US military to stay, but preferably on the remote island of Okinawa rather than in mainland Japan. The Okinawan government has been trying to convince the US to shut down the Marine Corps helicopter station at Futema because of the noise and congested air traffic (and as a step toward forcing all US military personnel out). The local government has now proposed that Futema be replaced by a new facility to be built at Henoko, a beach area bordering the Marine Corps' Camp Schwab. The offer comes with some strings attached. The Okinawans want the US to pay for the facility, which would be jointly used by the US military and Japanese civilians. The Japanese would control the facility and its air traffic. And finally, the Okinawans want the Marines to agree that they will leave Henoko within no more than 15 years and that no replacement base will be built.--Stephen V Cole

 


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