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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 April 19 - 25  > US military training increases in Okinawa despite its ‘relocation’ to Japan’s mainland
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2017 April 19 - 25 [US FORCES]

US military training increases in Okinawa despite its ‘relocation’ to Japan’s mainland

April 24, 2017
Under the name of easing Okinawans’ burden of U.S. bases, the Abe government is going ahead with the “relocation” of U.S. military drills from Okinawa to the Japanese mainland. However, it has come to light that the number of flights of U.S. aircraft in the southernmost prefecture increased during the “relocation” period.

In September 2016, the Abe administration announced a plan to move some flight training exercises of the Ospreys deployed at the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station in Okinawa to the mainland of Japan. The Japanese government will cover all relocation costs.

As part of the transfer, the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force and the U.S. Marine Corps conducted the joint exercise “Forest Light-02” in March in Gunma and Niigata prefectures. The joint drills involved U.S. Ospreys and CH-53E helicopters from the Futenma base. Thus, it was expected that the amount of military training in Okinawa would decrease during the month.

However, the Okinawa prefecture’s survey showed that the number of takeoffs and landings of U.S. military aircraft increased from 1,210 in February to 1,336 in March. According to the breakdown, while the number of flights of Ospreys and CH-53Es declined slightly, that of UH-1 and AH-1 helicopters surged. Many of the UH-1s and AH-1s supposedly came from U.S. bases outside Japan.

During, before, and after the “Forest Light-02” drills, Ospreys were stationed at the U.S. Yokota Air Base in Tokyo for nearly three weeks, flying all over the surrounding metropolitan areas. The crash-prone tilt-rotor aircraft are often seen flying in the nighttime and over public facilities across the country, which is in violation of the Japan-U.S. agreement.

It is outrageous to expand U.S. military training in both Okinawa and the mainland using Japanese taxpayers’ money. In order to alleviate the burden of U.S. bases, there is no option but to remove them altogether.

Past related article:
> US military plans to conduct Osprey flight drills throughout Japan [October 16, 2015]
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