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Citizens' groups protest US Air Force F-35 stealth jet drills at west Japan base

A U.S. Air Force F-35A stealth fighter jet is seen over Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in the Yamaguchi Prefecture city of Iwakuni, on Dec. 4, 2021. (Mainichi/Norio Oyama)

IWAKUNI, Yamaguchi -- Two citizens' groups on Dec. 7 submitted a protest to the municipal government here against U.S. Air Force training exercises out of Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, claiming that the flights are making residents anxious.

    Four F-35A jets based at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska flew to the air station in western Japan's Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture, on Dec. 3. According to the Japanese Defense Ministry's Chugoku-Shikoku Defense Bureau in Hiroshima, the fighters will be at the base for several weeks for drills with aircraft stationed there.

    Civic group Jumin tohyo o chikara ni suru kai (turning local referendum result into strength) pointed out that the central government hadn't given prior notification to the Iwakuni Municipal Government about the exercises. It also criticized the U.S. military, saying that while training flights by Iwakuni air station aircraft have been moved to other bases to alleviate the burden on Iwakuni residents, accepting F-35A training there is disappointing locals.

    Meanwhile, the group Setouchi Net expressed concerns that several more F-35A jets could join the drill. It claimed that it was obvious that noise would increase, and asked for the fighters' immediate withdrawal.

    (Japanese original by Norio Oyama, Iwakuni Local Bureau)

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