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HOME  > Past issues  > 2012 August 1 - 14  > Local people concerned over Osprey flight routes running through Japanese islands
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2012 August 1 - 14 [US FORCES]

Local people concerned over Osprey flight routes running through Japanese islands

August 4, 2012
A flight training plan of the U.S. military transport aircraft MV-22 Osprey has caused concern in regard to safety among residents of mountainous regions in Japan, where medical helicopters need to fly in case of medical emergencies.

The U.S. forces took 12 Ospreys into the Iwakuni Air Station in Yamaguchi Prefecture in July. They plan to deploy the aircraft to the Futenma Air Station in Okinawa and begin flight training nationwide from October. One of the 6 flight routes of their exercises runs through the mountainous areas of Shikoku Island in southwestern Japan.

The Japanese Communist Party on August 2 dispatched an investigating commission to these areas concerned. The commission members conducted surveys in Tokushima and Kochi prefectures for two days.

They visited a spot in Kochi’s Okawa Village, where two U.S. pilots had been killed in a military aircraft crash in 1994. Kochi Peace Committee Secretary General Wada Tadaaki told them that within 1 km of the crash site, there are day-care centers, schools, and the village offices. He stressed that the crash could have been a major disaster with the loss of civilian lives.

The JCP members also had a talk with Motoyama Town Mayor Imanishi Yoshihiko in the town office. Imanishi said that the U.S. forces had held low-level flight training during a hospital fire drill in which prefectural disaster-relief helicopters participated in November. He said, “Disaster-prevention and medical helicopters are essential to protect local people’s lives. The U.S. forces’ low-altitude flight training is unacceptably dangerous.”

In Tokushima Prefecture, the group members visited 3 towns and met with municipal officials. Kaiyo Town’s deputy mayor said, “We cannot accept the flights of such dangerous aircraft over our heads even if they fly at a higher altitude. We will strongly express the town’s opposition to the planned exercises in cooperation with the prefecture.”

JCP team head Nihi Sohei, ex-member of the House of Councilors, replied, “We will work together with all the municipalities objecting the Osprey deployment and their low-altitude flight exercises.”
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