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HOME  > Past issues  > 2014 July 9 - 15  > Gov’t wants public to get used to seeing Ospreys flying overhead
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2014 July 9 - 15 [POLITICS]

Gov’t wants public to get used to seeing Ospreys flying overhead

July 9-11, 2014
MV-22 Ospreys have scheduled flights throughout the Japanese archipelago from Okinawa on July 15 through July 20, as the Japanese government aims at having people on mainland Japan get used to the aircraft flying over their heads ostensibly to “reduce” Okinawa’s burden of hosting U.S. bases.

Currently, the U.S. military has 24 Ospreys at its Marine Corps Futenma Air Station (Ginowan City, Okinawa). As the government of Japan plans to buy 17 Ospreys in five years’ time for Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force, it apparently wants to prepare the public on a nationwide scale before the purchase.

First, on July 15, an Osprey flying from Okinawa will land at the U.S. Atsugi naval base (Ayase and Yamato cities, Kanagawa) for personnel transport before going to U.S. Martine Corps Camp Fuji (Gotenba City, Shizuoka). The aircraft will stay there for three days and then will return to Okinawa, according to the defense ministry’s notice to municipalities concerned.

Next, on July 20, two Ospreys will fly to Hokkaido to be put on display at an airshow hosted by a local aviation association at the GSDF Okadama Camp (Sapporo City, Hokkaido). On the day before, the two aircraft will make a short stop for refueling at the U.S. Yokota Air Base in Tokyo. The metropolitan government notified the relevant five cities and one town of this plan.

Incidentally, on the evening of July 6, with a major typhoon approaching, the Yokota AB office informed its surrounding six municipalities and the Tokyo metropolitan government that Ospreys in Okinawa may come to the Yokota base due to safety concerns. It was not necessary to do so in the end, but the mayors of the five cities and one town on July 8 jointly demanded that the foreign and defense ministers be held accountable for approving this plan. The Tokyo metropolitan government, however, opted out of taking any action.

* * *

On July 10, the Japanese Communist Party committee in Kanagawa hosting the Atsugi base (Ayase and Yamato cities, Kanagawa), where one Osprey will make a short stop for personnel transport, published a statement demanding the cancellation of the landing plan. The statement asserts that this will be the start of the nationwide deployment of Ospreys and that it cannot be overlooked.

The Ayase city mayor and the city assembly chairperson submitted a written request to the Atsugi base as well as the local defense bureau, calling on them to halt the plan. The two officials argued that the Ayase residents are already suffering from the noise of U.S. carrier-borne aircraft and the fear of crashes, and that they cannot be expected to tolerate more noise.

The Yamato city mayor also submitted a similar request to the Atsugi base and the defense and foreign ministers.

* * *

The JCP committee in Hokkaido and the JCP Sapporo city assemblypersons’ group on July 8 made representations to the city mayor, demanding that he request the local aeronautic association to cancel the airshow and festival where the two MV-22s will be placed on exhibit.

Sapporo City Mayor Ueda Fumio said to the JCP group, “I don’t know the details yet,” and promised he will collect information about the airshow by saying, “I myself feel insecure about the deployment of Ospreys.”

The Sapporo Airshow will take place at the GSDF Okadama Camp. Adjacent to the base is a residential district where many schools, hospitals, and public facilities are located.

The Air SDF Chitose base (Chitose City, Hokkaido) recently emerged as a candidate site for relocation of Osprey training, so the exhibit in the Okadama camp is seen as a prelude.

In Tokyo as well, the JCP Tokyo metropolitan assemblypersons’ group urged the metropolitan government to demand that the U.S. military cancel the planned landing of the two Ospreys for refueling before proceeding to Hokkaido.

Tokyo Governor Masuzoe Yoichi, however, said, “Anything regarding security affairs, the national government deals with,” showing no intention to take any action.
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