Okinawa: Ongoing mass protests at US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma

Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012
News photo
A group of protesters, including Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine (front row, second from right), rally against the aircraft’s deployment at the air base’s front gate. KYODO

Okinawa residents protest transfer of six Ospreys to base

Low-altitude test flights of controversial tilt-rotor aircraft set for this month

By AYAKO MIE, Japan Times Online, Staff writer

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