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Gov’t to earmark costs for GSDF Osprey deployment to Saga

  • 2015-11-02 15:00:00
  • , Sankei
  • Translation

(Sankei: October 31, 2015 – p. 1)

 

 The government decided on Oct. 30 to include in the FY 2016 draft budget funds to cover the deployment to Saga Airport (Saga City) of the new transport aircraft Osprey that the Ground Self-Defense Force will procure. The government had withdrawn the plan to transfer the U.S. Marine Corps’ training on account of local opposition. However, the government has now judged that it can gain the understanding of the prefectural government This was disclosed by multiple government officials.

 

 Although the government included 10.6 billion yen in the FY 2015 budget as the cost of the deployment of the GSDF Osprey, which includes the costs for site acquisition and survey, as well as ground reinforcement, it was unable to implement these as coordination with the local community had proceeded with difficulty. In the request for the FY 2016 draft budget this summer, the government did not include the cost for the GSDF deployment.

 

 Defense Minister Gen Nakatani met with Saga Prefectural Governor Yoshinori Yamaguchi on the Oct. 29 at the prefectural government office, calling for the governor’s understanding for the deployment of the GSDF Osprey to Saga Airport. At the same time in the meeting, Nakatani withdrew the plan to transfer of training of U.S. Marine Corp’s Ospreys stationed at the U.S. military’s Futenma Station, which the government has requested as part of reducing Okinawa’s base-hosting burden.

 

 In the meeting, since the largest concern–that the U.S. military might use the airport–was dispelled, Governor Yamaguchi accepted the survey needed for the deployment of the GSDF Osprey to the airport, indicating his positive stance toward the deployment. This led the government to judge that it can move forward with coordination with the prefectural government. As a result, the administration changed its policy and decided to include the costs for the deployment in the FY 2016 draft budget. On the basis of the subsurface exploration around Saga Airport and consultation with the prefectural government, which will begin soon, the government will examine the specifics and the exact amount to be earmarked in the draft budget.

 

 The Defense Ministry will move forward with the deployment plan as it “will gain understanding from the prefectural government,” according to a senior ministry official. It seems that the ministry will likely postpone preparations for an apron and hangars, limiting the budget to the small amount for the site survey. A government official emphasized: “In order to move forward with the deployment plan, it is significant to continue taking budgetary measures for the deployment.”

 

 With the introduction of 17 Ospreys by the GSDF, the government will acquire about 30 hectares of land adjacent to Saga Airport where an apron, hangars, barracks, and a magazine will be constructed, with a target for completion of construction by FY 2019.

 

 The government will also transfer about 50 helicopters to Saga Airport from nearby GSDF Camp Metaburu (Yoshinogari, Saga Prefecture).

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