Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Japanese Protesters to V-22 Osprey Aircraft: "Go Back to America!"

(Photo: AFP, via PressTV)

"Go Back to America!" - On Sunday, more than 1,000 Japanese demonstrators demonstrated outside Iwakuni (US Marine mega-base located on the Inland Sea, a little south of Hiroshima), protesting proposed deployment (low altitude testing & flight training) of the V-22 Osprey aircraft.

Read more about this weekend's protests at Press TV, The Japan Daily Press (Adam Westlake hits the gist of the matter - Tokyo's disregard of community responses to what happens in their backyards [even when public security, environmental protection and democratic process are at stake]) and The Japan Times: "Ospreys reach Iwakuni; protest held" (Eric Johnston's, as usual, thorough analysis):
..After being assembled and test-flown at Iwakuni, the Osprey are expected to relocate to Okinawa in early October. But 41 towns and villages in Okinawa, as well as the prefectural assembly and governor, have formally opposed the deployment, making that schedule politically troublesome. The Yamaguchi Prefectural Assembly also opposes the odd-looking aircraft, which can take off and land like a helicopter and fly like a plane.

In a further setback for Tokyo's hopes for an early deployment, the National Governors' Association passed a resolution Friday opposing the move...

In Iwakuni Monday, protesters said Noda faces a clear political crisis over the Osprey deployment but noted the issue needs to be seen in a larger context.

"Opposition to the Ospreys is a continuation of the Ajisai (hydrangea) Revolution, the anger people feel and the protests over nuclear power that have been taking place in Tokyo and elsewhere all summer," said Kyoko Taniguchi, a protester from Hiroshima.

Iwakuni Mayor Yoshihiko Fukuda said Iwakuni's "forced acceptance" of the Ospreys without convincing the public of their safety or receiving a final U.S. report on the two recent accidents, due next month, has only fueled local anger.
Despite concerns expressed by the Japanese government and opposition by local government officials in Kyushu and Okinawa as well as ordinary citizens, the U.S. Marines want to push through a plan to test/flight training V-22 Osprey aircraft throughout Okinawa and much of the Japanese mainland, according to Kosuke Takahashi in US Marines eye Japan as a training yard" at The Asia Times:

(Map: The Asia Times)

The Japan Times (via Kyodo) reported that the US Marines want to test and train at very low altitudes (less than 60 meters):
U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Ospreys may fly at as low as 60 meters above ground during training across various areas in Japan after they become mission-operational, according to documents and other information..

How high the aircraft fly during low-altitude training along six routes covering parts of Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu was specified in a document attached to a report by the U.S. military on the environmental impact of Osprey operations in Japan. It is believed the Futenma Ospreys will stage their mainland drills from the Iwakuni base.

The report says the aircraft will fly an average of 150 meters above ground. But an accompanying document says the Ospreys will sometimes fly at about 60 meters except between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., when the minimum will be about 150 meters.
Colorado residents who formed Peaceful Skies Coalition in 2010 stopped proposed Low Altitude Training Area (LATA) military training flights over the skies of New Mexico and Colorado. They were concerned about flight altitudes at 300 feet (about 90 meters):
The low-altitude flight training exercises would have involved training exercises performed at altitudes as low as 300 feet above the ground and generated significant concern among local residents and Colorado military units that also use the airspace.

[Senator] Udall, along with Sen. Michael Bennet, wrote to the Air Force to request more consultation with local and state agencies, citing concerns about impacts wilderness areas, wildlife and even ski resorts.
The Asahi's "Objections raised over U.S. plan for Osprey flights outside Okinawa" details the proposed V-22 low-level (60-150 meters) test/flight training routes, which according to this map, include urban and highly sensitive natural landscapes.

Objections to the Osprey deployment are now being heard in other prefectures following the Defense Ministry’s release on June 13 of an environmental assessment report submitted by the U.S. Marine Corps. It showed that the U.S. military is planning low-altitude Osprey training flights on Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu.

The report--the first time the U.S. military has admitted it was planning low-altitude training flights in Japan--showed six different flight routes named by different colors.

Three routes are planned for mountainous areas of the Tohoku and Shinetsu regions of Honshu. One planned route extends from Shikoku to the Kii Peninsula of Honshu, while the other two routes are over Kyushu and the Amami islands between Kyushu and Okinawa.

The report states that flight and tactical training exercises involving the Osprey would bring the aircraft as low as about 150 meters [actually 60 meters] above ground.

Over the course of a year, 330 training flights are planned for the six routes, with about one-third of them taking place between late afternoon and night, according to the report.

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