Okinawa Governor tells Defense Minister: “If the governments bulldoze their way to deploy the Osprey, all U.S. bases will be closed immediately.”
July 1, 2012 Ryukyu Shimpo
In the morning of July 1, at the Okinawa Prefectural Office, Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto met Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima and explained the deployment plan to U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma for the MV-22 Osprey vertical take-off and landing transport aircraft. After their meeting, when talking to the press corps, Nakaima condemned the governments of Japan and the United States, saying, “If the governments bulldoze their way ahead to deploy the Osprey aircraft, all U.S. bases will be closed immediately.”
At their meeting, Morimoto requested that the Okinawa Governor accept the Osprey deployment, stating, “It will lead to a marked improvement in the aviation support capabilities, humanitarian assistance and disaster-relief capacity for the U.S. Marine Corps.” Nakaima strongly opposed the Defense Minister’s stance, saying, “”I find it unbelievable that despite this aircraft having issues with its performance the U.S. military can bring anything it likes into Okinawa. There is nothing for it but to totally reject this.” The Governor responded by requesting that the Defense Minister stop the deployment plan.
After meeting with the Okinawa Governor, Morimoto met the mayors of the municipal offices related to the bases where the Osprey will operate, and in the morning of the same day, he left Okinawa to go to Iwakuni in a Self-Defense Force aircraft.
In late July, the U.S. Marine Corps will transport the Osprey aircraft to the U.S. Iwakuni base in Yamaguchi Prefecture, and in early October will start full-scale operations at Futenma Air Station. The United States will delay test flights of the Osprey until August, when it plans to provide the additional findings of the series of crashes that occurred in Morocco and Florida.
(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)
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