Kanoya Mayor Approves MQ-9 Reaper Deployment

The mayor of Kanoya, Shigeru Nakanishi, has announced his intent to allow 150 to 200 U.S. service personnel and eight MQ-9 Reaper UAVs deploy to the local Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force air base this coming September, NHK reported. Kanoya, located within the Kagoshima prefecture on the southernmost island of Kyushu in Japan, is a prime location for the use of MQ-9s to perform the mission for this deployment: monitor Japanese waters and the South and East China Seas.

This announcement comes after the Japanese Ministry of Defense notified Kanoya last May of the plan to station the eight Reapers in the city for a year. In January of this year, Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi announced to reporters that the US and Japan intended to deploy MQ-9s to Kanoya. Soon after, in early March, 31 US personnel surveyed the air base at Kanoya and the surrounding city to determine how the accommodations would fit the US personnel supporting the Reaper deployment. According to a document posted on the city of Kanoya’s website, part of the MQ-9’s mission during this deployment is to serve as a demonstration of MQ-9 operations in preparation for the delivery of MQ-9Bs to the Japanese Coast Guard to perform the same mission of monitoring Japanese waters.

The Japanese Ministry of Defense says that the Reapers will not be armed during their year-long deployment, and will be operating purely in a surveillance capacity. The announcement for this deployment comes as Japan has detected a number of Chinese and Russian vessels sailing near Japanese territory.

The deployment was initially planned for July, however because of delays due to the time required to transport the necessary equipment and make the requisite accommodations in Kanoya, the deployment was pushed to September. The Japanese Ministry of Defense has stated that they will set up a liaison for civilians to report any concerns or ask any questions they may have regarding the deployment.