Six MV-22 Ospreys were transferred Monday morning to U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa, the Defense Ministry said, as local residents protested vociferously in front of the base.
It is not clear when the remaining six tilt-rotor Ospreys currently at the U.S. Iwakuni air station in Yamaguchi Prefecture will arrive in Okinawa, but the U.S. Marine Corps is expected to deploy all 12 to Futenma and start low-altitude test flights across Japan later this month.
The hybrid transport aircraft’s deployment to Futenma, situated in a heavily populated neighborhood in Ginowan, comes despite Tokyo and Washington’s failure to placate local opposition.
Okinawans remain deeply concerned over the aircraft’s safety following the crash of an Osprey in Morocco that killed two marines in April and a second accident in June that injured five crew members in Florida. Continue reading →
An aerial photograph shows thousands of people gathering in Naha to protest the deployment of the controversial Osprey aircraft. KYODO PHOTO
NAHA — Tens of thousands of people gathered for a rally in Okinawa on Sunday to protest against the planned deployment of U.S. Ospreys in the prefecture in the face of a series of problems involving the tilt-rotor military aircraft.
An elderly demo participant holds a sign bearing the kanji character for “anger.”
“It cannot be considered normal to live under conditions in which an Osprey may fall from the sky at any moment,” Masaharu Kina, chairman of the Okinawa prefectural assembly, told the protesters at a seaside park in Ginowan, which hosts the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station.
Organizers said 101,000 people took part in the rally.
The protest was held after safety concerns over the deployment of the aircraft in Japan were amplified following Osprey crashes earlier this year in Morocco and Florida. Pentagon reports suggest human error was a factor in both crashes.
On Saturday, it was also reported that an Osprey made an emergency landing at a field behind a church in Jacksonville, North Carolina, on Thursday.
Ginowan Mayor Atsushi Sakima told the rally the U.S. and Japanese governments “aim to bring Ospreys, whose safety cannot be assured, into Futenma without making any improvements.”
Among the participants was Yoshitaka Shinjo, 45, a neighborhood community leader from Ginowan. “While I oppose the Osprey deployment, I also believe in the need to remove the dangerous Futenma air base.”
The rally on Sunday was organized by the prefectural assembly as well as Okinawa municipality leaders and business circles. Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima did not attend.
In a message sent to the rally organizers and read out to participants, Nakaima said, “I will continue to convey Okinawa residents’ opposition to the deployment to the Japanese and U.S. governments.” Continue reading →
by Mamoru Shishido, Evening Edition Department, Mainichi Daily News, Mainichi, Japan
February 20, 2012
‘Bikini incident’ survivor’s story relevant today as Fukushima crisis continues
Matashichi Oishi, 78, talks about his experience as a crew member of the Daigo Fukuryu Maru at his home, where he has a photo with author and anti-nuclear activist Kenzaburo Oe hanging on the wall. (Mainichi)
Eleven months since the outbreak of the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant run by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), with people still living in fear of radiation exposure, I went to hear what a man who was exposed to radiation 58 years ago, had to say.
Matashichi Oishi, 78, was a crew member of the fishing boat Daigo Fukuryu Maru, or “Lucky Dragon 5,” which one day in 1954 found itself covered in the “ashes of death” from a nuclear experiment being conducted in the Pacific by the U.S., off the Bikini Atoll.
“Many people were exposed to blasting winds and extreme heat by the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” Oishi said. “As for us, we were covered in radioactive white powder that rained down from the sky, and suffered internal radiation exposure.”
It was Feb. 11, and Oishi was speaking to an audience of about 60 people attending a study session co-hosted by a civic group and the Nishitokyo Municipal Government. He’d shut down the dry cleaning business that he’d run for years in Tokyo at the end of 2010.
“I’d always been trying to share my experiences through spoken and written words, but no one would listen to a mere former fisherman-turned-launderer. But ever since the disaster in Fukushima broke out, what I have to say is no longer ‘someone else’s pitiful story,'” he said.
That Oishi characterized his ordeal — an incident which sparked Japan’s anti-nuclear activist movement — as having been viewed as “someone else’s pitiful story” is testament to the turbulent road he’d been forced to take. Continue reading →