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A U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey aircraft made an unprecedented landing Friday on a Japanese naval vessel off the California coast.
The tilt-rotor aircraft flew from San Diego’s Marine Corps Miramar Air Station to the Japanese ship Hyuga as part of an 18-day drill aimed at improving Japan’s amphibious capabilities.
The Osprey has sparked protests in Japan over concerns about its safety record, which includes two crashes last year in Florida and Morocco.
The Japanese government approved the deployment of 12 Ospreys in 2012 to Okinawa after receiving additional assurances from the Pentagon.
Military officials say the Osprey is critical for regional security efforts. The hybrid aircraft can take off and land like a helicopter. Marines demonstrated its versatility and speed Friday in an exercise that required coordination between the Navy, Marine Corps and Japan’s military members.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says that the government is planning to commemorate the day when Japan regained its sovereignty from the United States 61 years ago on April 28 by holding a special ceremony. But Okinawans are angry about this since they consider this their “day of humiliation”, when they were abandoned by Japan.
Moriteru Arasaki, a professor emeritus of Okinawa University was a first year high school student on that day when the San Francisco Peace Treaty came into effect. While Japan got its sovereignty back, Okinawa was placed under the control of the United States. Arasaki believes it is an insult to Okinawans for Abe’s government to consider celebrating that day. And he is not alone in that thinking. Choho Zukeran, the former chairman of the Political Local Party of Okinawa believes that his prefecture was used as a pawn to the U.S, in exchange for giving back freedom to the rest of the country. Zukeran participated in protests held every year on April 28 until they finally succeeded in 1972 when the Okinawa prefecture was returned to the Japanese government.
But to this day, residents of the southernmost prefecture of Japan feel deep anger at being “forced” to host the U.S bases and half of its more than 47,000 military personnel. Protests, sometimes led by their political leaders and government officials, have continued against the US military presence, safety issues over the deployment of MV-22 Osprey aircraft at the Kadena Air Force Base by 2015 and the recent spate of criminal misbehaviour by military personnel. Some have warned Abe’s administration that the continued unrest in the region might someday lead to a move for secession from the central government. If the celebration on April 28 pushes through, this will just be another reason for Okinawans to resent the government.
Members of the Ground Self-Defense Force boarded the U.S. militarys MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor transport aircraft for the first time Wednesday during a joint exercise with the U.S. Marine Corps, it has been learned.The exercise, simulating the recapture of an isolated island, was held at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in California and was open to the media.Early in the morning, four Ospreys arrived at an exercise area in Camp Pendleton after taking off from an amphibious assault ship at sea. About 50 GSDF personnel aboard the aircraft joined a GSDF unit that had secured a stronghold the previous day.
The U.S. Marines are conducting their first test flights of the MV-22 Osprey aircraft in Japan after months of protests there over safety concerns.
The hybrid aircraft can take off like a helicopter and fly like an airplane. Flight operations were conducted Friday at a base in southern Japan where they are temporarily deployed before being transferred to Okinawa.
Following two recent crashes, tens of thousands of Okinawans have protested the deployment, saying that they are not safe to fly in Okinawa’s crowded environment.
Japan’s prime minister says he will not allow any flights of the US military’s latest transport aircraft in this country until its safety after two recent crashes has been confirmed.
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda told Parliament on Tuesday that no flights would take place until investigations into the April and June crashes were completed and Japan was satisfied the aircraft are not a safety hazard.
The U.S. military’s Osprey aircraft arrived in Japan early Monday as residents rallied against their deployment after recent crashes raised safety concerns.Live television footage showed 12 MV-22s being unloaded from a cargo ship at the U.S. Marines’ base in Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture.Local protesters in a dozen small boats demonstrated against the controversial aircraft’s arrival, chanting “We don’t want the dangerous Osprey!” and “Osprey, go back to America.”
The US Defense Department says it will deploy its Osprey aircraft in Okinawa despite local opposition after recent crashes. Spokesperson George Little said on Monday the Pentagon stands behind its decision.
The United States military is planning test flights late July at its Iwakuni base in Yamaguchi Prefecture, before deploying the craft to Okinawas Futenma Marine air base.