There are plans to deploy the Osprey, a new type of transport aircraft, to bases in Tokyo and adjacent prefectures for maintenance. Local residents who have opposed the deployment plans are voicing their anger and concern about the recent accident [that took place in Okinawa on Dec.13].
GSDF Camp Kisarazu in Chiba Prefecture
Beginning January next year, Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) Camp Kisarazu (Kisarazu City, Chiba Prefecture) is scheduled to provide maintenance service on a routine basis for 24 Ospreys based at the U.S. military’s Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture.
“It is awful,” said Akira Nonaka, 76, a member of a group of local residents against Osprey deployment. “Although they say it was an ‘emergency landing,’ the airframe was broken into pieces, so I think it was a crash,” Nonaka added angrily, “I have to say the Osprey has a structural deficiency.”
The GSDF also plans to gradually introduce Ospreys from fiscal 2018. The Defense Ministry plans to deploy 17 Ospreys for the GSDF to Saga Airport, and the Defense Ministry is planning maintenance service for them at Camp Kisarazu. This means the camp will become a maintenance base for SDF and U.S. Ospreys.
U.S. Air Force Yokota Base in Tokyo
The first batch of three CV-22 Ospreys with U.S. Air Force specifications are scheduled to be deployed to the U.S. Air Force’s Yokota base (Fussa City, Tokyo) in late 2017. A total of 10 CV-22 Ospreys will be deployed on a standing basis to the base in 2021. Even now, Futenma-based MV-22 Ospreys frequently fly to the base. Mieko Takahashi, 74, of Hamura City, who is the representative of the “Association of Nishitama Residents Calling for Removal of Yokota Base,” said angrily, “Base-hosting communities around Yokota base are densely populated, and there is no place around Yokota for an emergency landing like in the sea.” She further said, “It was an accident waiting to happen, which proved the airplane’s high accident rate.”
U.S. Navy Atsugi Base in Kanagawa Prefecture
According to the Kanagawa Prefectural Government’s website, Ospreys have made a total of about 60 flights to and from the U.S. Navy’s Atsugi base (Yamato and Ayase Cities in Kanagawa Prefecture) this year. “What we have been afraid of actually took place,” said Tokio Kaneko, a leader of plaintiffs in the fourth lawsuit over Atsugi base noise pollution. (Abridged)