TOKYO, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) -- The Japanese government said Wednesday that an uninhabited island in the southwestern prefecture of Kagoshima will be purchased by March to be used by Japanese forces, as well as for U.S. military aircraft to practice carrier landings.
Japan's top government spokesperson told a press briefing on the matter Wednesday that along with U.S. military drills to be held on Mage Island, located 12 km west of Kagoshima's Tanegashima Island, the government is also mulling the use of the island for Japan's Self-Defense Forces' (SDF) operations.
"We will work to build a permanent facility on the island as soon as possible," said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.
The government's plan to build a new SDF base on the island has been met with staunch criticism from residents of neighboring Tanegashima Island, who have voiced their concern about the potential for military-linked accidents and noise pollution.
Shunsuke Yaita, mayor of Nishinoomote, a city on the island of Tanegashima, is opposed to the central government's plans. He said the city will continue with discussions on alternative ways Mage Island could be utilized.
"Even if the acquisition is completed, we will keep discussing how to utilize Mage Island and make proposals to the government," Yaita was quoted as saying of the island, which spans 8.2 square km and has a circumference of 16.5 km.