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MCAS Futenma
MCAS Futenma logo
IATA: none – ICAO: ROTM
Summary
Airport type Military
Operator United States Marine Corps
Location Okinawa, Japan
Built 1945
In use 1945 - present
Commander Col. James Flynn
Occupants 1st Marine Aircraft Wing
Elevation AMSL 246 ft / 75 m
Coordinates 26°16′15″N 127°44′53″E / 26.27083°N 127.74806°E / 26.27083; 127.74806Coordinates: 26°16′15″N 127°44′53″E / 26.27083°N 127.74806°E / 26.27083; 127.74806
Website Marine Corps Air Station Futenma
Map
ROTM is located in Japan
ROTM
Location in Japan
Runways
Direction Length Surface
m ft
06/24A 2,740 8,990 Asphalt/Concrete
Sources: Official site[1]
Japanese AIP at AIS Japan[2]

Marine Corps Air Station Futenma or MCAS Futenma (Japanese: 海兵隊普天間航空基地 Hepburn: Kaiheitai Futenma Kōkū Kichi?)A[3] (ICAO: ROTM) is a United States Marine Corps base located in Ginowan, 5 NM (9.3 km; 5.8 mi) northeast[2]B of Naha, on the island of Okinawa. It is home to approximately 4,000 Marines of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing and has been a U.S. military airbase since the island was occupied following the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. Marine Corps pilots and aircrew are assigned to the base for training and providing air support to other land-based Marines in Okinawa.

The base includes a 2,740 by 45 m (8,990 by 148 ft)[2]A runway as well as extensive barracks, administrative and logistical facilities. The air station is tasked with operating a variety of fixed and rotary-wing aircraft in support of the III Marine Expeditionary Force. The base is also used as a United Nations air facility.

History[edit | edit source]

Futenma Airfield was constructed by the US military following the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. It was built partly on the ruins of the villages of Aragusuku, Ginowan, Kiyuna and Isa, and entirely over the village of Kamiyama and surrounding farmland. According to Ginowan City records, the joint population of what was then Ginowan Village (now Ginowan City) was 12,994 in 1944. It was initially allocated for Eighth Air Force use to station B-29 Superfortress strategic bombers in the planned Invasion of Japan. With the end of the war, the airfield became a United States Air Force Far East Air Force installation known as Futenma Air Base, and was used as a support airfield for the nearby Kadena Air Base, hosting fighter-interceptor squadrons as part of the air defense of the Ryukyu Islands. The base was transferred to the United States Navy on 30 June 1957 and was subsequently developed into a major United States Marine Corps air station.[4][5]

Location[edit | edit source]

MCAS Futenma is situated in the center of Ginowan City (pop. 93,661).[6] The air station covers approximately 480 hectares (1,200 acres), about one quarter of the area of Ginowan City, and includes a 2,740 by 45 m (8,990 by 148 ft)[2]A runway.[7][8]

Local concerns[edit | edit source]

Local residents are concerned over pollution and ground water and soil contamination caused by the base's activities. For example, retired Marine Lieutenant Colonel, Kris Roberts, told the Japan Times that his base maintenance team unearthed leaking barrels of Agent Orange at the base in 1981.[9]

Due to its urban location, concerns surrounding training flights over residential areas causing noise, air pollution and endangering public safety have become controversial issues in Ginowan City.[10] Safety concerns were intensified after the August 2004 crash of a Marine Corps CH-53D transport helicopter into Okinawa International University. Three crew members were injured, but there were no injuries on the ground.[11] Public concern with crime related to the presence of US military on Okinawa rose in 1995 when three American servicemembers raped a 12-year-old Okinawan girl.[12]

In December 1996, the Japanese and U.S. governments decided that the Futenma base should be relocated to an off-shore location in Henoko Bay in Nago, northern Okinawa.[13][14] This was and remains a controversial decision, since the projected site involved construction on a coral reef and seagrass beds which are the habitat of the dugong, an endangered marine mammal protected under Japanese and U.S. law.[15] In a referendum conducted later the same year, a vast majority (over 80%) of Nago residents voted against the Henoko plan.[16] However, shortly afterward, they elected a mayor who campaigned on a platform of accepting the new facility.[citation needed] In March, 2006, a new mayor was elected on a similar platform, getting more votes than his two anti-relocation opponents combined.[citation needed]

Even so, opinion remained divided between those who view the 'relocation' plan as a recipe for development in the northern part of the island, and others who consider it more likely to lead to the destruction of what remains of Okinawa's sub-tropical forests and undegraded coastal reefs.[citation needed]

Relocation plans[edit | edit source]

As of April 2012, the fate of Futenma remains unresolved with the US insisting that Futenma be moved to a location within Okinawa while, Okinawans "fiercely oppose Futenma and believe the base should simply be closed and moved overseas or elsewhere in Japan," according to Time Magazine[17] The US and Japan have meanwhile delinked the relocation of Futenma from plans to decrease the number of Marines stationed on Okinawa, reaching a troop redeployment agreement in April 2012, which might make room for a new Futenma agreement according to Al Jazeera's Asia-Pacific correspondent Harry Fawcett.[18] Under the terms of the new U.S.-Japan agreement 5,000 U.S. Marines will be relocated to Guam and 4,000 U.S. Marines to other Pacific locations such as Hawaii or Australia, while some 10,000 Marines will remain on Okinawa.[18][19][20][21][22][23][24] No timetable for the Marines redeployment has been announced, but the Washington Post reported that U.S. Marines would leave Futenma as soon as suitable facilities on Guam and elsewhere are ready.[21] The relocation move is expected to cost 8.6 billion US Dollars[19] and includes a $3.1bn cash commitment from Japan for the move to Guam as well as for developing joint training ranges on Guam and on Tinian and Pagan in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.[18]

The relocation plan has had a complex history. On 26 October 2005, the governments of the United States and Japan agreed to move the relocation site for Futenma from the reef area off Henoko to the interior and coastal portions of the existing Marine infantry base at Camp Schwab, just a few hundred meters away from the offshore facility.[25][26] The cited reason for the change is to reduce the engineering challenge associated with building a runway on reefs in deep water: experts estimate that rather than the 15-plus years required to construct a new airbase at the previous reef location, the new Camp Schwab plan will enable Futenma to be relocated within 6–8 years.[27] These plans were also accelerated when a CH-53D Sea Stallion transport helicopter attached to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit lost tail rotor authority and spiraled into the main administrative building of Okinawa International University.

Reaction to the new plan for Futenma's relocation has been widespread in Okinawa. However, the 2006 mayor of Nago (which hosts Camp Schwab) formally agreed to accept the relocation when he signed an agreement with Defense Minister Nukaga on 8 April 2006.[28] Mayor Shimabukuro was later joined by all five of the major mayors of northern Okinawa. Although some all-Okinawa public opinion polls indicate that many Okinawans have reservations about the latest plan, residents of northern Okinawa have recently elected and re-elected leaders who have publicly accepted it. In fact, all 12 mayors of northern Okinawa have publicly accepted the new relocation plan. In this respect, the Futenma issue exposes a range of conflicting opinions among Okinawans: from those who maintain that military facilities and associated public works infrastructure benefit the island's economy; environmentalists, and those who either object or are critical to the U.S. military presence on ideological grounds or on rooted sentiments.[14][27][29][30] Susumu Inamine (稲嶺進) the new mayor of Nago city as of 24 January 2010 is against the relocation plan and agrees to move Futenma outside of Okinawa.[31] Besides the local assembly of Nago voting against the relocation plan, the prefectural assembly of Okinawa also formally asked the prime minister to move the base out of the prefecture.[32] On 17 May 2010 (the anniversary of the reversion of Okinawa to Japan) people from Okinawa formed a "human chain" around the whole base with estimated 17,000 people taking part.[33] This was the fifth time such an action took place.[34]

In 2009, amid controversy throughout Japan over the relocation of the base, Osaka Prefecture governor Toru Hashimoto publicly proposed moving the base's functions to Osaka's Kansai International Airport (which is on an artificial island), remarking that "the burden [of bases on Okinawa] should be spread more evenly throughout Japan."[35]

In 2011, the chairman and ranking member of the United States Senate Committee on Armed Services called for an alternative plan where Futenma aircraft would move to Kadena Air Base while the current aircraft at Kadena would move to Andersen Air Force Base.[36] A detailed proposal by a former Marine Corps officer would move just one squadron to Kadena and relocate the others to various Navy and Marine Corps airbases in Asia.[37]

The replacement of helicopters with the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey will allow the Marines to train all along the length of Japan, by using the tiltrotor's increased range to bridge the distance to the Japanese main islands.[38]

In April 2013, the United States and Japan released yet another relocation plan for the facility.[39]

Tenant commands[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

Footnotes[edit | edit source]

A.^ In the Japanese language MCAS Futenma is formally known as: Kaiheitai Futenma Kōkū Kichi (海兵隊普天間航空基地?), more commonly as: Futenma Hikōjō (普天間飛行場?), and is commonly abbreviated in speech and writing as: Futenma Kichi (普天間基地?).[3][41]
B.^ The text version gives a runway 2,740 by 45 m (8,990 by 148 ft)[2] and the aerodrome chart gives 9,000 by 150 ft (2,743 by 46 m).

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. MCAS Futenma, official website, retrieved 12 November 2007
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 AIS Japan
  3. 3.0 3.1 United States Marine Corps (2012). "海兵隊普天間航空基地" (in Japanese). Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. http://www.okinawa.usmc.mil/Installations/futenma.html. Retrieved 2012-05-25. 
  4. USAF Historical Research Agency Document 00219137
  5. USAF Historical Research Agency documents for Futenma Air Base
  6. City of Ginowan (2012). "平成23年版 宜野湾市統計書" (in Japanese). Statistics of Ginowan City, 2011 ed.. Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture. http://www.city.ginowan.okinawa.jp/2556/2568/2569/2614/13910/41908.html. Retrieved 2012-05-25. 
  7. Global Security website.
  8. "普天間飛行場 (Futenma Hikōjō)" (in Japanese). 日本歴史地名大系 (Nihon Rekishi Chimei Taikei). Tokyo: Shogakukan. 2012. http://rekishi.jkn21.com/. Retrieved 2012-05-25. 
  9. Mitchell, Jon, "Agent Orange at base in '80s: U.S. vet", Japan Times, 15 June 2012, p. 1
  10. "普天間飛行場 (Futenma Hikōjō)" (in Japanese). Dijitaru daijisen. Tokyo: Shogakukan. 2012. http://rekishi.jkn21.com/. Retrieved 2012-05-25. 
  11. Takahashi 2004.
  12. (2010, 16–22 January). The new battle of Okinawa. The Economist, 394, 43-44.
  13. "The SACO Final Report on Futenma Air Station". SACO Final Report. Tokyo, Japan: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (MOFA). 2 December 1996. http://www.mofa.go.jp/region/n-america/us/security/96saco2.html. Retrieved 26 June 2012. [dead link]
  14. 14.0 14.1 "Futenma mondai [普天間問題"] (in Japanese). Gendai yōgo no kiso chishiki [現代用語の基礎知識]. Tokyo: Jiyū Kokuminsha. 2012. http://rekishi.jkn21.com/. Retrieved 2012-05-25. 
  15. Egelko, Bob (5 August 2004). "Imperiled mammal threatened by plan for Okinawa base, Court in S.F. hears activists advocate applying U.S. law". San Francisco Chronicle. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2004/08/05/BAGDU82Q961.DTL. Retrieved 24 July 2006. 
  16. "Residents vote 'No' to heliport - Japanese report". BBC News. 21 December 1997. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/monitoring/41556.stm. Retrieved 24 July 2006. 
  17. "U.S. to Remove 9,000 Marines from Okinawa". Time. 27 April 2012. Archived from the original on 27 April 2012. http://web.archive.org/web/20120427195036/http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2113304,00.html. Retrieved 30 April 2012. 
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 "US agrees to Okinawa troop redeployment". Al Jazeera. 27 April 2012. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/asia-pacific/2012/04/201242733733409278.html. Retrieved 27 April 2012. 
  19. 19.0 19.1 Seales, Rebecca (27 April 2012). "End of an era: U.S. cuts back presence in Okinawa as 9,000 Marines prepare to move out". http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2136025/End-era-U-S-cuts-presence-Okinawa-9-000-Marines-prepare-out.html. Retrieved 27 April 2012. 
  20. Shanker, Thom (26 April 2012). "U.S. Agrees to Reduce Size of Force on Okinawa". http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/27/world/asia/united-states-to-cut-number-of-marines-on-okinawa.html?ref=japan. Retrieved 27 April 2012. 
  21. 21.0 21.1 Greg Jaffe and Emily Heil (27 April 2012). "U.S. comes to agreement with Japan to move 9,000 Marines off Okinawa". http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-comes-to-agreement-with-japan-to-move-9000-marines-off-okinawa/2012/04/26/gIQA1seKkT_story.html. Retrieved 27 April 2012. 
  22. "Okinawa deal between US and Japan to move marines". BBC. 27 April 2012. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-17865198. Retrieved 27 April 2012. 
  23. "U.S., Japan unveil revised plan for Okinawa". 27 April 2012. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/politics/AJ201204270034. Retrieved 27 April 2012. 
  24. Quintana, Miguel (28 April 2012). "Japan Welcomes US Base Agreement". Voice of America. http://www.voanews.com/english/news/asia/east-pacific/Japan-Welcomes-US-Base-Agreement-149215665.html. Retrieved 28 April 2012. 
  25. ABC News, 26 October 2005.
  26. BBC News, 26 October 2005.
  27. 27.0 27.1 Allen, David and Chiyomi Sumida, "Futenma questions and answers", Stars and Stripes, 27 November 2009.
  28. Allen, David and Chiyomi Sumida (16 April 2006). "No accord yet on who pays to move Marines to Guam" (reprint in Leatherneck). Stars and Stripes. http://www.leatherneck.com/forums/showthread.php?t=28666. Retrieved 26 February 2008. 
  29. Sief, Linda, (Reuters) "Q+A-Japan-U.S. base feud hits nerve ahead of Obama visit", Forbes, 25 October 2009.
  30. "Thousands of Japanese protest U.S. base plan", Reuters, 8 November 2009.
  31. Kim, Dong-Jin (25 January 2010). "日 오키나와현 나고시장, 美기지 현외 이전파 당선" (in Korean). Segye Ilbo. http://www.segye.com/Articles/News/International/Article.asp?aid=20100125000030&ctg1=04&ctg2=00&subctg1=04&subctg2=00&cid=0101040400000. Retrieved 27 January 2010. 
  32. David Allen, "Okinawa assembly to formally ask for Futenma base to move off the island", Stars and Stripes Online Edition, Thursday, 25 February 2010
  33. David Allen and Chiyomi Sumida, "Okinawans encircle U.S. base", Stars and Stripes Pacific edition, Tuesday, 18 May 2010
  34. "'Human chain' around Futenma base", The Asahi Shimbun English Online Edition, Monday, 17 May 2010
  35. Will the U.S. Marines charge ashore at Kansai airport?, Japan Today
  36. "Accountability report cites higher buildup cost; U.S. senators push alternative plan." Pacific Daily News, 26 May 2011.
  37. http://www.g2mil.com/okinawa-solution.htm
  38. Takahashi, Kosuke. "US Marines eye Japan as a training yard." Asia Times, 23 June 2012.
  39. "Hagel Details U.S.-Japan Consolidation Plan for Okinawa."
  40. Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron
  41. "Futenma Hikōjō no kinō to yakuwari (普天間飛行場の機能と役割)" (in Japanese). Funtenma Airport, functions and duties. http://www.futenma.info/mcas.html. Retrieved 2012-05-25. 

References[edit | edit source]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.  This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.

External links[edit | edit source]


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