TOKYO, Oct. 31 (UPI) -- The U.S. military is to return partial airspace control over a base in Japan to Japanese authorities.
Stars and Stripes reported Oct. 27 that according to Japanese government officials, the United States has agreed to return 40 percent of the airspace over the U.S. Air Force Yokota Air Base, near Tokyo's Haneda Airport, to Japanese control.
The reversion of the airspace to Japanese control could shorten flying time to local civilian airports, save fuel, and ease some of Tokyo's heavily congested air traffic.
A Japanese Defense Agency spokesman speaking on condition of anonymity said the agreement will be implemented in time for Hamada's planned 2009 expansion.
The arrangement falls under a broad U.S. military realignment plan, which is also shifting a substantial segment of U.S. Marine Corps personnel from Okinawa to Guam.
The United States currently deploys about 50,000 troops in Japan under a mutual security pact. Their presence has frequently caused tension both at the local and national level.