Protest rally held in Ginowan against deployment of the Osprey to Futenma Air Station
June 17, 2012 Ryukyu Shimpo
From 2:00pm on June 17 at the Ginowan Outdoor Theater, a rally was held to protest against the deployment of the MV-22 Osprey vertical take-off and landing transport aircraft to the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, and against the base becoming a permanent fixture at Futenma. The participants in the rally demanded the early closure of the base and the return of the land that it uses. According to a representative of the rally executive committee, about 5200 people gathered including residents who live close to the base constantly in fear of a crash by a military aircraft and annoyed by the noise generated, as well as people who live in the municipalities that host U.S. military bases. Because of the significant risk of its crashing, they demanded that the Japanese and U.S.
governments cancel the plan to deploy the Osprey aircraft to Futenma Air Station.
The protesters also demanded that the Japanese and U.S. governments return the land used by the base as soon as possible and ease the excessive burden placed on Okinawa by hosting U.S. military bases for the 67 years since the end of the war. The protest rally adopted resolutions against the deployment of the Osprey to the base, and demanding the early closure of the base and the return of the land used by it, and also demanded that the Japanese and U.S. governments clarify the schedule of the closure and return of the base.
Osprey aircraft have been crashing with disturbing regularity during its developmental stages. This April, an MV-22 Osprey crashed in Morocco, killing two U.S. Marines, and on June 13, a U.S. Air Force CV-22 Osprey crashed in southern Florida during training, injuring five crew members on board. With the safety issues still unresolved, the U.S. military plans to deploy 12 Osprey aircraft to Futenma Air Station in August and the Japanese government has accepted this timing.
Ginowan Mayor Atsushi Sakima, the head of the rally executive committee, gave a speech, and representatives of high schools and the university in Ginowan, Emiko Taira, the head of the Ginowan Municipal Women’s Federation, Shinryu Tawada, the head of the Ginowan Municipal Federation of Senior Citizen’s Club, Kinue Nakamura, the head of the Ginowan Municipal Federation of PTAs, and Choko Futenma, the head of the Ginowan Municipal Youth Development Council all voiced their opinion. Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima delivered a message at the rally.
On June 19, Nakaima and Sakima demanded that the Japanese government cancel the deployment plan. On July 5 and 6, representatives of the executive committee will go to Tokyo to appeal to Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba and newly appointed Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto.
Referring to accidents involving the Osprey in April and June, Sakima clearly said, “Those accidents once again prove the dangerous nature of the Osprey. We would like the Japanese and U.S. governments to immediately cancel the deployment plan.” With regard to Futenma Air Station, Sakima said, “We want to take all necessary measures to see the land used by the base returned as soon as possible.” Nakaima said, “I oppose the deployment plan because not enough information has been provided to verify its safety.
Takemasa Kyan, a representative of high schools said, “It is too late once an accident has happened. I do not want the Osprey to be deployed to Ginowan.”
Although more than 16 years have passed since April 1996 when the Japanese and U.S. governments agreed to return Futenma Air Station to Okinawa, this has not yet come about.
(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey）
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