|Airport type||Public / Dual-use|
|Location||Shimojishima, Miyakojima, Okinawa, Japan|
|Elevation AMSL||25 ft / 8 m|
Shimojishima Airport (下地島空港 Shimojishima Kūkō, (IATA: SHI, ICAO: RORS)) is located on the island of Shimojishima in Miyakojima, Okinawa Prefecture, Japan. It has the longest runway of any island in Japan south of the main island of Okinawa. Nevertheless, scheduled jet passenger service is inactive due to lack of proper facilities. This is changing as Mitsubishi is set to build a Low cost carrier terminal by 2019 in anticipation of domestic and international services.
The prefecture operates the airport, which has been classified as a Third Class airport (otherwise known as a Type-3) since May 1979.
The airport, also known as Shimoji Airport, was originally built as a 'training airport' for commercial pilots, with a secondary role as a (planned) alternative landing site for intercontinental supersonic airliners. It was completed in 1971, a year before Okinawa reverted to Japanese control. It was officially opened in July 1973, initially as a private airport.
From 2001 onwards, the U.S. Marine Corps occasionally used the airport as a stopover point for helicopters and tanker aircraft involved in regional exercises.
In 2004, there were some protests over the use of the airport as a refueling stop by USMC helicopters returning from an exercise in the Philippines. Adding to concerns were reports that the airport was being looked at in connection with a new base for units that were to be displaced by the planned relocation of the Futenma base. The airport is currently listed as a CSL (Cooperative Security Location) by the US DOD.
As of 2005, the airport was in use as a training facility for Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways. The long runway makes the facility well-suited for "touch-and-go landing" practice maneuvers. In the same year, the then local (Irabu Town) assembly submitted a proposal to the then Defense Agency, requesting that the JASDF take over the airport as one of their bases.
In 2010, there were renewed protests against proposals to turn Shimoji Airport into a permanent USMC post.
As of early 2013, serious consideration was being given to basing a detachment of JASDF F-15J fighters out of the Airport, in order to provide better air defense coverage over the Senkaku Islands. The airport already has a 'shadow designation' as Shimoji Air Base as part of its Type-3 status.
Airlines and destinations
In the anime Stratos 4, set in an alternate timeline, Shimojishima Airport had become Shimoji Airbase sometime after the year 1984. This is home to the Shimoji MS (Meteor Sweeper) Squadron, part of an international planetary defence organisation.
- AIS Japan Archived 2016-05-17 at the Portuguese Web Archive
- "JASDF wants fighters deployed to Shimoji Island", Japan Update, January 2013 Edition
- Shimojijima Airport, Okinawa Prefecture
- US Reportedly Eyes Island Near Taiwan As Military Base CNSNews.com (via crosswalk.com), Thursday, October 14, 2004
- A CSL contains no permanent U.S. presence; instead, rotational U.S. forces occasionally use it for training and during contingences. (DoD, 2011b; National Defense University, 2011 Worldwide Posture Conference, June 14–15, 2011.)
- Irabu Jima citizens irritated and demand mayoral recall election, Japan Update
- Okinawa town presses for turnover of Shimoji Airport to JASDF Stars and Stripes, March 25, 2005
- Relocating USMC base to Okinawa’s Shimoji-jima cannot be accepted Japan Press Weekly, Akahata, January 11, 2010
- "To Counter China, Defense Ministry Considering F-15s at Civilian Airport", Japan Security Watch