The Japanese-American Friendship Festival, during which the public is invited to visit the U.S. military’s Yokota Air Base (straddling Fussa and some other municipalities in western Tokyo), began on Sept. 15. At the event, the U.S. military displayed the CV-22 Osprey aircraft, which will be officially deployed to the base on Oct. 1. While aircraft enthusiasts queued up to see the aircraft, a civic group opposing the Osprey deployment put up a banner in a park near the base and called for the cancellation of the deployment.
Some 40 airplanes, including transport aircraft, fighter jets, and Air Self-Defense Force airplanes, were lined up on the runway. An Osprey demonstration flight was also conducted. Col. Otis Jones of the base told the crowd, “I want to take this opportunity to solidify our precious relations with the communities near the base.”
Meanwhile, Tsuruta Kazutada, who heads a civic group advocating the removal of the Yokota base in the Nishi-tama district, called on visitors to support the cancellation of the Osprey deployment. He insists that Osprey training “has repeatedly been conducted without providing sufficient information to local authorities.”
Hiroyuki Harada [spelling not confirmed], 46, a company employee from Yokohama’s Tsuzuki Ward who attended the event, says: “I don’t live near the base so the Osprey issue doesn’t seem that pressing to me, but the aircraft have caused problems, including emergency landings, so I’m worried about their safety.”
The festival will continue on Sept. 16. Tsuruta’s civil group is scheduled to stage a sit-in on that day to call for the cancellation of the Osprey deployment.