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Thousands protest in Okinawa against Osprey aircraft

By Mari Yamaguchi

Associated Press


TOKYO >> Tens of thousands of people rallied Sunday against U.S. plans to deploy Osprey hybrid aircraft on a southern Japanese island amid renewed safety concerns.

The protesters — as many as 100,000, according to organizers — gathered at a seaside park on Okinawa to demand that the plan to deploy 12 MV-22 Osprey aircraft on the island be scrapped, saying they are unsafe. The U.S. plans to deploy the Osprey, which takes off like a helicopter and flies like an airplane, to replace older CH-46 helicopters that are already there.

Safety concerns boiled over after Osprey crashes in Morocco and Florida earlier this year. An incident in North Carolina last week that officials called a “precautionary landing” further aggravated the sentiment.

“We refuse to accept a deployment of Osprey that has already proven so dangerous,” said Atsushi Sakima, mayor of Okinawa’s Ginowan City, home to the base where the Ospreys will be deployed. “Who is going to take responsibility if they crash onto a populated neighborhood?”

Participants cheered in support, waving red banners and placards with a message saying “Osprey No!” 

The tilt-rotor planes have been used extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan. The United States says they have a solid record and can fly faster and carry bigger loads than the CH-46, which it is replacing worldwide.

Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima has asked Japan’s central government to seek a full U.S. investigation into the Osprey crashes and suspend their deployment until the aircraft’s safety is verified. 

The Osprey deployment plan has also reignited longstanding anger over the heavy presence of American troops on Okinawa and has become a headache for officials in Tokyo and Washington hoping to calm anti-base sentiment. More than half of the roughly 50,000 U.S. troops stationed throughout Japan are based on Okinawa.

Okinawans are particularly angry because the Ospreys will be deployed to Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, which the two countries decided to close more than a decade ago. The base has remained in operation because a replacement site hasn’t been readied.

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quint34 wrote:
At least 50,000 us troops died to get that Island. Don' t give an an inch of land earned with us blood
on September 9,2012 | 07:42AM
false wrote:
Go Home. It's calling. Look at "water boarding" and then determine who is without "sin". Man's inhumanity to man with big guns and resources to gain, is what war is all about. Look at what we did to Afghanistan. Games we know not of go on behind the scenes. No more war.
on September 9,2012 | 07:55AM
sailfish1 wrote:
Okinawa is owned by Japan now. World War II was over for 67 years now - get over it already!
on September 9,2012 | 07:07PM
8082062424 wrote:
They have every right to be upset. They have have had major problems with the military getting out of hand on that island rape being a big problem.
on September 9,2012 | 07:52AM
localguy wrote:
8082062424 how little you know. I have been to Okinawa every year over the past 18 years. One time in their local paper, the police chief was interviewed. He said Okinawans are guilty of more rape and other crimes than the Americans/US Marines. It is unfortunate he said the Okinawan crimes do not make the front pages or cause protesting, only the American crimes do. Next time you post do your due diligence. Posting rookies.
on September 9,2012 | 09:51AM
8082062424 wrote:
never said that they did not have there own crime problems. the fact that we are there as visitors and our military acts the way they do say a lot. you would think our military would behave better but they do not.why do you think they want them out of there. we do not own that country .
on September 9,2012 | 11:39AM
sailfish1 wrote:
U.S. military is not wanted there so leave already!
on September 9,2012 | 07:09PM
Ronin006 wrote:
8082062424, you need to educate yourself to learn how the systems work. Having lived and worked in Okinawa on the local economy and not as a member of the US forces, I will tell you. Member of US forces rapes or assaults an Okinawa – front page news for days, weeks or months. Okinawa rapes or assaults an Okinawa – back page news for maybe one day. Member of the US forces involved in hit and run accident – front page news for days, weeks and perhaps months. Okinawan involved in hit and run accident – no mention in local papers. The rate of crimes against Okinawans by Americans is not as great as crimes against Okinawans by Okinawans. The reporting is totally biased.
on September 9,2012 | 05:51PM
sailfish1 wrote:
Same way as in Hawaii - foreignors and tourists always make bigger news.
on September 9,2012 | 07:11PM
false wrote:
Bring those air craft to Guam, to Hawai`i and stop harassing the Okinawan people. We are not at war with Japan. We are allies for peace in the Pacific.
on September 9,2012 | 07:52AM
Lanikaula wrote:
DAT'S not going to stop them from falling. Already those in Kailua are complaining. We have ENUF militarization of Hawaii. PACIFIC means PEACE. Since the alleged overthrow Hawaii has been an OCCUPIED 'STATE' of the international community. Yeah, we weren't at war with America also, but somehow the ILLUSION of REALITY, the alleged overthrow 'GAVE' credence to the BS of the overthrow...remember the 'illusion' to help the Phillipines rid them of Spain. Well, THAT was the excuse. To 'launch' that campaign from Hawaii, allegedly to 'free' the Filipinos, but the US stayed until they too were evicted recently for not wanting to pay RENT for all their military bases there! So for us in Hawaii to get around paying 'rent' they just created this same illusion and furthered it calling it STATEHOOD, amongst the 'divided' states of america... u like hear shibai...america's dirty secrtets...
on September 9,2012 | 08:28AM
localguy wrote:
Is there a point to your post? Can't find one. Too much rambling on.
on September 9,2012 | 09:53AM
kennie1933 wrote:
Regarding the Kailua issue yesterday, other people claim "its the sound of freedom..."
on September 9,2012 | 04:32PM
Mythman wrote:
Aww, Gee, maybe Dan Inouye could represent the Okinawans in congress and get those horrible marines to leave, maybe they could go to Guam, where danny boy could build some bases using yakuza construction companies?
on September 9,2012 | 09:19AM
HD36 wrote:
Let's see if Japan bows to the White man again or truly considers Okinawans on par with Japanese.
on September 9,2012 | 09:48AM
ready2go wrote:
Why stay if we're not welcomed? Close all military bases and pull all civilian and military personnel out.
on September 9,2012 | 10:58AM
sailfish1 wrote:
Why does the U.S. have to put their military on heavily populated foreign soil? Why can't they use other less populated islands that they control or own like Wake Island, Saipan, etc. U.S. troops have given enough grief to the Okinawan people over 67 years. Move them out already!
on September 9,2012 | 07:05PM
SteveToo wrote:
The hell w/em. Bring the boys home and when China come knocking just laugh at the.
on September 9,2012 | 07:20PM
st1d wrote:
bring them home. use the money saved from maintaining forward u.s. bases on foreign soil to boost our domestic economy.

let them drain their own treasuries to defend their countries.

if each of the 25,000 u.s. military personnel stationed at okinawa spent an average of $300 a month at local businesses, that's $90,000,000 a year going into okinawa's economy.

that's $90,000,000 that would be better spent in hawaii or other states in the u.s.

on September 9,2012 | 08:30PM
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