Japan to buy USD146 million island for US military drills

TOKYO (AFP) – Japan said yesterday it had agreed to buy an uninhabited island off its southwest coast for USD146 million, eyeing it for United States (US) military drills.

Tokyo and Washington agreed in 2011 to relocate a training site for US fighter jets to Mageshima island, around 30 kilometres off the southwestern Japanese coast.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said an agreement to purchase Mageshima was reached last Friday “after discussions between the defence ministry and the developer who owns the majority of the island”.

American flight training operations are currently conducted at Iwo Jima, some 1,200 kilometres south of Tokyo.

Washington had requested a move, saying Iwo Jima – a key World War II battlefield – was too far away from an American military base in the western Japanese city of Iwakuni, where their fighters are stationed.