Japanese protest arrival of U.S. Ospreys

Oct. 1, 2012 at 9:04 AM
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TOKYO, Oct. 1 (UPI) -- The arrival of military aircraft with a history of fatal crashes prompted protests Monday at an urban Okinawa U.S. military base, local officials said.

About 300 people, including politicians, demonstrated at a gate of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, located within the city of Ginowan, as six Osprey planes landed at the base, The Mainichi Daily News reported.

Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima, who watched the Ospreys arrive at Futenma, was critical of the redeployment to the base in Ginowan, a city with a population of about 94,000.

"The central government's claim of [the Osprey's] safety is ridiculous, and there's no way anyone can accept something that has the possibility of falling on their heads," he said. "This situation is extremely disappointing and regrettable."

The V-22 Osprey can rotate its propellers upward and move like a helicopter. During test flights, the craft crashed four times, killing 30 people. Since being activated in 2007, Ospreys have crashed three times resulting in six fatalities and had several minor accidents.

In the most recent incident, in June, a V-22 crashed upside-down at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, injuring all five people aboard.

Nakaima said it was "unreasonable" to have the aircraft at a base in the middle of the city and that the planes must either be moved or the base relocated.

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