The Japanese government is preparing to buy out the uninhabited island of Mageshima so that it can be used for military exercises by American aircraft, Kyodo News reports.
The island of Mageshima has an area of roughly eight square kilometers and falls under the Kagoshima Prefecture in the south-west of Japan. Two old runways on the island intersect to form a cross.
The island may be sold for 16 billion yen (around $150 million), although negotiations are still underway with the development company that owns the property on the island.
According to Japanese media, the Japanese government and the US military have had their eye on Mageshima for this purpose since 2011, but the negotiations have been drawn out for a long time.
Since 1991, the US has conducted ground exercises for landing on aircraft carriers on the island of North Iwo Jima which lies 1,000 km south of Tokyo. However, due to bad weather, the exercises have had to be moved to other bases, which has led to complaints of “disturbing the peace” from local inhabitants.
The Mainichi newspaper wrote in November that if Mageshima is bought, the US will consider using this island instead of Okinawa for drills with MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft. Repeated accidents with the MV-22 have cause Okinawa inhabitants to protest out of fear for their safety.