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HOME  > Past issues  > 2012 September 19 - 25  > Local citizens protest US Ospreys’ test flights
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2012 September 19 - 25 [US FORCES]

Local citizens protest US Ospreys’ test flights

September 22&25, 2012
The U.S. Forces on September 21 started test flights of the controversial transport aircraft MV-22 Osprey despite protests from citizens near the U.S. Marine Corps Iwakuni Air Station in Yamaguchi Prefecture.

It is the first time for them to fly over the sky of Japan since 12 Ospreys were deployed to the base in July. The U.S. is planning to transfer the aircraft to the Futenma Air Station in Okinawa at the end of September and to start their full-scale operations in October.

In the early morning on that day, many local people gathered by a fence on the north side of the Iwakuni base. As one of the planes began to move from the apron to the runway, protesters cried out, “Go back to America!” “We don’t want Ospreys in Iwakuni or Okinawa!”

One of the protest organizers criticized the “safety declaration” on the aircraft recently issued by the Japanese government as a “pipe dream” that has no scientific basis. He said, “Let’s work together to remove all the U.S. bases from the country by abrogating the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.”

Yamaguchi Governor Yamamoto Shigetaro said at a news conference on the same day, “It is regrettable that the test flights have begun while residents’ concern over Ospreys’ safety has yet to be properly addressed.”

Iwakuni City Mayor Fukuda Yoshihiko said that he was disappointed with the government decision to allow the U.S. to hold such flights.

Okinawa Governor Nakaima Hirokazu said at a press conference that he cannot say it would be no problem unless the concerns of local residents near the Futenma base are dealt with.

On the day, around 100 Okinawans staged a sit-in protest against the Osprey deployment plan in front of the main gate of the Futenma base, and over 100 people held a rally in Fukuoka’s Kitakyushu City, located near the airspace of the test flights.

* * *

Okinawa Governor Nakaima handed Defense Minister Morimoto Satoshi a written request, demanding the cancellation of the plan to deploy Ospreys to the Futenma base.
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