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HOME  > Past issues  > 2014 July 23 - 29  > 17 Ospreys for SDF may possibly be deployed at civil airport in Saga
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2014 July 23 - 29 [POLITICS]

17 Ospreys for SDF may possibly be deployed at civil airport in Saga

July 23, 2014
Saga, the northwest prefecture of Kyushu, may possibly provide a civilian airport to host 17 Ospreys which the Defense Ministry will purchase for the Ground Self-Defense Force.

Parliamentary Senior Vice Minister of Defense Takeda Ryota on July 22 met with Saga Governor Furukawa Yasushi at the prefectural government office, demanding that the prefecture accept the deployment of the 17 U.S.-made Ospreys at Saga Airport in fiscal 2019.

It came up so suddenly that many prefectural residents are expressing anger or concern.

The governor himself said, “Why Saga? Are Ospreys safe? I need more explanations from the state,” and avoided giving an immediate statement.

The vice minister asked for approval by the end of August, but the governor refused to do so and told the state official that he will bring it up for discussions at the prefectural assembly in September.

Saga Airport is a prefecture-managed civilian airport which opened in July 1998. An agreement signed between the prefecture and the local fisheries cooperative clearly states that the SDF will not co-use Saga Airport. In addition, article 3 of the agreement requires prior consultation between the two regarding any change to the airport operation.

Aiming to the Osprey deployment in FY 2019, the national government is seeking to relocate 50 helicopters currently at the nearby GSDF Camp Metabaru (Yoshinogari Town) to Saga Airport. The government plans to have a total of 70 aircraft, including the 17 Ospreys, based in this airport with an attachment of 700-800 SDF personnel.

In the near future, the state authorities aim to utilize Saga Airport for an amphibious mobile regiment, a Japanese version of the U.S. Marine Corps., which will be created at GSDF Camp Ainoura (Sasebo City, Nagasaki Pref.).

It is highly probable that the island of Kyushu will be used as a huge stronghold for Japanese marines.
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