Four years after Osprey deployment, some call for a stop to operations; others positive
October 1, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo
(Ginowan) October 1 marks four years since MV-22 Osprey verticle takeoff and landing transport aircraft were deployed, despite local opposition, to U.S. Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma in Ginowan City. Protesters who blockaded the base to express their opposition to the deployment at the time are still protesting around the base, saying that the deployment ignores the locals’ human rights and calling for an immediate stop to Osprey flights. Meanwhile, those have been in favor of the Osprey deployment praise its record, pointing out that there have been no accidents involving Osprey in Okinawa, and that its operation has been smooth.
A group of around ten to fifteen protesters gather at Futenma’s Nodake gate every morning at 7 a.m. from Monday to Friday. The protesters are organized by the Futenma noise lawsuit group and the Okinawa Peace Citizens’ Liaison Council, and call out to vehicles belonging to U.S. military personnel and employees as they enter and exit the gate, calling for revocation of the Osprey deployment and closure of the air base.
Kazunobu Akamine, 62, a plaintiff in the noise lawsuit and a resident of Nodake in Ginowan City says, “I’m just relieved that there haven’t been any accidents [involving Osprey] these past four years. But abroad, there have been accidents leading to casualties. I have lived in fear and been subject to low-frequency sound waves as well. I wish they would stop flying soon.”
In 2012, protesters formed a group called “Nuchi du Takara – Sarabanji Association.” Until last year, the group held protests starting at 6 a.m. outside MCAS Futenma, expressing their opposition to the Osprey to vehicles entering and exiting the gates. Now their protests are held three times a week.
Tsuyoshi Tamaki, 66, who comes from Uruma City to join the protests, expressed his outrage, saying, “Okinawans’ human rights continue to be ignored. My anger of four years ago has not dissipated.”
Akira Oyama, 33, head of the residents’ association of Oyama Ward, near MCAS Futenma, said, “I can’t reject their protests, but I want them to take care not to cause trouble to nearby residents.”
Meanwhile, a 56-year old man from Naha City who welcomed the Osprey deployment from the start said, “Their operations are going smoothly. I’m sure they are taking the utmost precautions with maintenance and such before flying [the Osprey]. When it comes to flying an aircraft, it’s impossible to say that there will never be an accident, but I don’t think there’s any need to be concerned about Osprey in particular.”
(English translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)
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