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HOME  > Past issues  > 2016 April 13 - 19  > Sending US Ospreys to affected areas increase sufferers’ anxiety
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2016 April 13 - 19 [POLITICS]

Sending US Ospreys to affected areas increase sufferers’ anxiety

April 19, 2016
With the purpose of transporting relief supplies to the quake-hit areas in Kumamoto Prefecture, the U.S. military on April 18 dispatched to the region two MV-22 Ospreys deployed to the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station in Okinawa.

This is the first time that the U.S. tilt-rotor aircraft are being used in rescue operations in Japan. The true purpose of this dispatch seems to be to put on display the strength of the Japan-U.S. alliance and wipe away local concern over a plan to deploy the Japanese Self-Defense Forces’ Ospreys to a civilian airport in Saga Prefecture, located near Kumamoto.

Defense Minister Nakatani Gen claimed that Ospreys are useful in responding to major disasters because they have both great mobility and a high load capacity.

However, the transportation of relief items to affected areas can be provided efficiently by helicopters. Ospreys’ carrying capacity is said to be higher than that of helicopters. However, as the weight of loaded goods increases, the length of runway Ospreys need increases. In addition, when they take off or land vertically, the risk of a crash increases dramatically.


On the same day, Japanese Communist Party member of the House of Councilors Nihi Sohei in a Diet meeting criticized the sending of U.S. Ospreys to the stricken areas as “too dangerous”.

Nihi pointed to the fact that waste heat produced by the transport aircraft burned the grass in Wakayama Prefecture in October 2014 and that an MV-22 blew away the roof of a private house during rescue operations in Nepal following a devastating earthquake there in April 2015.

The JCP lawmaker said to the defense minister, “There are grassy plains in the affected region and many houses and buildings are heavily damaged. Given this situation, how can you say that Ospreys are safe to use there? Their flights will further heighten anxiety among victims.”
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