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Tuesday, 30th October 2012
In Japan Travel News,

Tokyo 'badly needs a third airport'

The debate over Yokota Air Base has resurfaced as Tokyo struggles to handle demand for international commercial flights.

With only two airports and 35 million people it seems as though the time has come to explore new possibilities. Officials in the city believe the US air base near Mount Fuji offers the perfect space for more expansion, although Japan is yet to persuade the US to allow it partial use of the air base.

Talks have ensued for several years but a recent report from the Centre for a New American Security has revitalised Tokyo's case for sharing Yokota. The report comes after a year-long study and says dual use could help the US make its military in Japan more nimble, more popular with locals and harder to attack.

There are several options open to the two countries and the report reveals that a 'quid pro quo' deal could be the right move forward. This is where the US would be allowed military access to Japanese civilian airports during emergency situations and in the event of emergencies the military use would take priority over civilian use.

Tokyo’s two major airports - Haneda and Narita - sit to the south and the east of the city which leaves several million residents in the western part of Tokyo with a long commute if they want to catch a plane. An airport at Yokota would cut this hassle and would also provide much-needed extra runway space for private flights.

With a bid for the 2020 Olympics on the agenda the deciding committees will be looking for infrastructural improvements in Tokyo. Officials in the city are trying to keep the issue on the front burner and prime minister Yoshihiko Noda has called for US president Barak Obama to meet with him to discuss the possibility of 5.6 million passengers flying into and out of Yokota by 2022.

Posted by Graham McPherson

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