Okinawa Times and Ryukyu Shimpo reported that three MV-22s flew out of Naha Military Port and landed at MCAS Futenma on Tuesday afternoon, saying that the operation disregarded requests from the Okinawa prefectural and Naha municipal governments that the aircraft not be flown out of the port facility. The three Ospreys had been sealifted to Okinawa last week to replace the three tilt-rotor planes that were transported from the seaport to the U.S. mainland for maintenance. Governor Tamaki and Mayor Shiroma protested the latest flights on the grounds that an agreement between the two governments states that the Naha Military Port shall be used primarily as a harbor facility and for oil storage. The papers expressed concern that the U.S. military will continue to use the seaport as a platform for flights by Ospreys or other military aircraft.
However, the Okinawa Defense Bureau did not take issue with the operation of the Ospreys there, saying that the use of the seaport by aircraft does not constitute a violation as long as the flights are “compatible” with the primary purpose of the facility’s usage as described in the accord. An unnamed Futenma spokesperson reportedly commented on the flights by saying: “All aircraft operations by the Marine Corps are in line with longstanding bilateral agreements between the two governments. The flights were standard procedure and in accordance with similar agreements.”