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HOME  > Past issues  > 2016 March 16 - 22  > Construction of Osprey maintenance site underway in coastal area of Tokyo Bay
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2016 March 16 - 22 [US FORCES]

Construction of Osprey maintenance site underway in coastal area of Tokyo Bay

March 16, 2016
A site for the maintenance of U.S. Osprey aircraft is now being constructed in the Ground Self-Defense Force Kisarazu Station (Chiba Prefecture) in the coastal area of Tokyo Bay. Local residents are opposing the construction as it will lead to frequent flights there of the accident-prone aircraft.

Kisarazu City Mayor Watanabe Yoshikuni at a city assembly meeting on March 2 said that preparation work for the maintenance site construction is already underway. Receiving contracts from the Defense Ministry, two construction companies are carrying out the preparation work, including installations of sprinklers and other fire-extinguishing equipment and aircraft painting equipment in “Hangar K” at the SDF station. The construction work is scheduled to finish in December. In addition, a heatproof hovering area will be set up near a runway at the station. The Japanese government is covering the cost of the construction.

When the operation of the maintenance facility begins, 24 MV-22 Ospreys deployed at the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Base in Okinawa will in turn fly to the Kisarazu site to undergo overhauls which take three to four months. The Defense Ministry’s Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Agency states that five to ten Ospreys will use the site in a year. If ten Ospreys come, there will constantly be three to four of them undergoing maintenance at the facility.

In October 2015, the U.S. military awarded Fuji Heavy Industry the contract for periodic maintenance work after accepting their tender. The company will overhaul Osprey at the maintenance facility in question which is capable of accommodating four Ospreys. Fuji’s predecessor was a munitions manufacturer in the prewar and wartime era.

Prime Minister Abe Shinzo in his general-policy speech in January expressed his intention to build a site for maintenance of U.S. Osprey at the SDF Kisarazu station as a way to strengthen the Japan-U.S. alliance. In 2014, a top uniformed official of the SDF during his visit to the U.S. held a meeting with top American officers and requested that a site for periodic repair of Osprey be in Japan. This fact was revealed in September 2015 in SDF internal documents that the Japanese Communist Party had obtained.

Once the maintenance docks are set up at the SDF Kisarazu station, U.S. Osprey will fly from Okinawa year-around and repaired craft will repeatedly go on test flights from the station. The Defense Ministry has made claims to the city authority that there is no danger. It shows no intention to hold any meetings with residents to give further information.

Nonaka Akira of a citizens’ group opposing the plan to construct Osprey docks in Kisarazu criticized the Defense Ministry’s explanation as “extremely irresponsible”. He suspects that the ministry itself is not sure if the U.S. military will operate its Osprey with sufficient consideration for residents’ safety.

In addition to Kisarazu, the Japanese and U.S. governments seek to deploy CV-22 Osprey to the U.S. Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo. The U.S. Navy has decided to adopt carrier-borne HV-22 Osprey and they will be deployed to the Atsugi and Yokosuka bases in Kanagawa Prefecture. If the U.S. military and the Abe government are allowed to do as they want, people will see the Tokyo metropolitan area turned into a “nest” of Ospreys.
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