Slices of Japanese business, politics and life
Captain Takuha Shimoishi is a member of a crack squadron of fighter pilots at the front line of some of Japan’s most sensitive territorial disputes, ready to scramble to check out incursions into the country’s airspace at any moment.
But however fast the slender 35-year-old leaps into his F-15 fighter, he is sometimes forced to wait in line behind planeloads of holidaymakers before taking off, he told me during a tour of the Naha military base on the southern island of Okinawa this week.
That’s the downside of sharing a runway with Japan’s fifth busiest commercial airport, a hub for tourists from across the region, attracted in droves by the balmy climate and clear, blue seas around Okinawa and its neighbouring islands.
Training flights for the F-15 pilots and their navy colleagues in P3-C surveillance aircraft, who track any incursions by foreign submarines, must be slotted into windows outside peak holiday flight times.