Five U.S. Air Force CV-22 Osprey transport aircraft were unloaded on April 4 at the “Yokohama North Dock,” a U.S. military facility at the Port of Yokohama, for deployment to the U.S. military’s Yokota Air Base straddling Fussa and some other municipalities in western Tokyo. The Ospreys will fly to the Yokota base later this week. But there is little information from the U.S. military, so Ministry of Defense (MOD) officials on site are staying near there to confirm the Ospreys’ takeoffs and other movements.
“We have no information from the ministry, so we have to confirm when the Ospreys will take off, and what the U.S. military is doing there,” an official of the South Kanto Defense Bureau, an outpost of the Defense Ministry, said on the evening of April 4 after the CV-22s were unloaded from a transport vessel. The official added, “Staff are taking turns to watch their moves from a place that can overlook the North Dock.” The official also said that the bureau will continue watching from the morning the next day.
An official of the public affairs division of the Yokota base told the Tokyo Shimbun, “We can only say that the Ospreys will be deployed later this week because that’s information concerning our operations. All checks for flights have been completed.” Meanwhile, the official disclosed, “The CV-22s that have arrived [in Japan] were previously deployed to a unit in Florida, and the transport vessel came from Florida. (The Ospreys will be deployed to Yokota but) the Ospreys and their crew will be part of a detachment of the 353rd Special Operations Group at Kadena Air Base (in Okinawa Prefecture).”
Ospreys have been fraught with accidents and emergency landings. Yokohama City Mayor Fumiko Hayashi said during a press conference on April 4, “I’m very concerned. I want the central government to handle the issue [of Osprey deployment] in a responsive way so as not to cause anxiety among citizens.”