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HOME  > Past issues  > 2012 June 27 - July 3  > Defense minister visits Okinawa asking for approval of Osprey deployment
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2012 June 27 - July 3 [OKINAWA]

Defense minister visits Okinawa asking for approval of Osprey deployment

July 2, 2012
Defense Minister Morimoto Satoshi on June 30 - July 1 visited Okinawa and Yamaguchi prefectures to obtain local consent for the deployment of the Osprey aircraft to the prefectures, but only met with rebuffs.

The U.S. government on June 29 officially notified the Japanese government of the deployment of the Osprey, a military aircraft with vertical take-off and landing capabilities, to the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station in Okinawa’s Ginowan City.

On June 30, the defense minister on behalf of U.S. had a meeting with Ginowan Mayor Sakima Atsushi and asked for his approval. The mayor replied, “As the Ginowan mayor responsible to protect the lives and property of 94,000 citizens, I’m not in a position to welcome you.”

The next day, Morimoto called on Okinawa Governor Nakaima Hirokazu, and then went to Yamaguchi Prefecture to meet Governoer Nii Sekinari and Fukuda Yoshihiko, the mayor of Iwakuni City where the Iwakuni base is located. The Osprey will be temporarily stationed at the base before being deployed to the Futenma base.

The Okinawa governor discouraged the minister from ignoring local opposition to the plan, by saying “If the aircraft crashes in the center of residential area, we will demand for all the U.S. bases in Okinawa to be shut down.”

The Yamaguchi governor argued that the national government should implement safety measures on its own. The Iwakuni mayor said, “The Japanese government should demand that the Osprey be brought in to the Iwakuni base only after the safety of the aircraft is confirmed.”

“I’ve now come to understand the seriousness of the situation,” the minister said to the press after the meetings.
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