Heads of 38 municipalities oppose the deployment of MV-22 Osprey at Futenma Air Station

June 11, 2011 Ryukyu Shimpo

A survey conducted by Ryukyu Shimpo on June 10 about the deployment of MV-22 Osprey vertical take-off and landing transport aircraft at the Futenma Air Station from 2012 has revealed that this is opposed by the heads of 38 of 48 municipalities in the prefecture.
Ryukyu Shimpo received responses from all the heads of the municipalities in the prefecture except that of Ginoza Village who could not be reached due to being away on a business trip to South America.
Those opposed to the deployment pointed out the issue of noise and the increased risk, and some also expressed strong feelings of distrust towards the Japanese government. It is clear that there is concern in Okinawa about the safety of the Osprey due to the fact that there were significant failures during flight-testing in its developmental stage and one subsequent combat-zone crash.

Ryukyu Shimpo conducted the survey on June 9 and 10.
Takeshi Asato, the mayor of Ginowan City, which hosts the Futenma Air Station said, “In a situation in which local residents and the people of Okinawa are already forced to live with the risks of crashes and the impact of noise, we cannot tolerate any further strengthening of the base’s function and imposing an even greater strain on the prefecture.”
Susumu Inamine, the mayor of Nago City – where the Japanese and the U.S. governments have agreed that the Futenma Air Station is to be relocated – said, “The deployment of the Osprey is dangerous and will increase noise levels. Increasing the burden on Okinawa cannot be tolerated. Neither the governor nor the residents of the prefecture will accept such a plan.”

With regard to the fact that the Japanese government said nothing about the deployment of Osprey until the announcement by the U.S. Department of Defense on June 6, many people were critical, saying, “The Japanese government has intentionally avoided making an announcement.”
There is also a demand for the disclosure of accurate information regarding issues such as safety.

Many heads of municipalities are clearly concerned about increased risk due to the deployment of Osprey at Futenma Air Station and request that an environmental impact assessment be conducted on the assumption that Osprey aircraft will be deployed at the Futenma Air Station.

Takeshi Onaga, Mayor of Naha City, who is also head of the Okinawa Association of City Mayors, affirmed his position on no need for an environmental impact assessment, but also said, “The deployment of the Osprey at Futenma Air Station flies in the face of the idea of reducing the burden on Okinawa of the U.S. military bases. I am absolutely opposed to it.”

Mayor of Miyakojima City abstained from voting, saying “The deployment of the Osprey at the Futenma Air Station would not directly affect us.”
Head of Tarama Village answered, saying, “I cannot comment on the issue due to a lack of information and knowledge.”

(English Translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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