US And Japan Plan Floating Runway
Japan and the US are planning to build a giant floating runway off the coast of western Japan in a bid to reduce noise pollution by US military aircraft, local media reported yesterday.
The "megafloat" will be built six miles off Iwakuni, home to a US marine base, at a cost of up to $4.5 billion (¥500bn) (£2.5bn), the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper said, quoting government sources. The countries will include the plans in an interim report on the realignment of US forces in Japan due in October. The new runway would be used by about 70 aircraft, including F/A-18 fighters. The jets, which serve the US aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk moored at nearby Yokosuka naval base, have been the target of complaints from residents because of the noise. "Being four kilometres away [from land], nearby residents won't be bothered by the noise," the Yomiuri quoted a Japanese government official as saying. US officials believe the sea off Iwakuni is calm enough to safely support the floating base, which will be made out of hollow metal boxes and could last 100 years. Local councils in the Iwakuni area oppose the megafloat, however, saying the presence of more aircraft will increase noise levels and heighten the risk of accidents. In addition, the Iwakuni base has already been selected to be used for refuelling for aircraft from the marine corps air station on the southern island of Okinawa. Okinawa is home to well over half of the 47,000 US military personnel in Japan.