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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 June 28 - July 4  > What’s going on at Ospreypad construction site in Takae?
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2017 June 28 - July 4 [POLITICS]

What’s going on at Ospreypad construction site in Takae?

July 3, 2017
In the Takae district in Okinawa’s Higashi Village, the Abe government is continuing with the construction of helipads for U.S. Osprey aircraft despite its declaration that all the work was “completed”.

Prime Minister Abe intended to implement as early as possible the agreed-upon partial return of the U.S. Northern Training Area to Japan with the aim to give the impression that he is working to reduce Okinawa’s base burdens. In order to achieve this, the Abe administration speeded up the pace of the construction of U.S. military helipads in Takae which was agreed upon by the Japanese and U.S. governments as a condition for the return. In December 2016, after the two governments confirmed the “completion” of the helipads, a patch of land in the U.S. military training field was given back to Japan.

However, construction is far from completion. The Defense Ministry’s Okinawa Defense Bureau explained that the “completed” helipads need reinforcement work. Japanese Communist Party Higashi Village Assembly member Isa Masatsugu pointed out, “As the Abe government hurried to get the Ospreypads completed, the construction crew might have cut some corners. So, I think, the defense bureau is conducting work to fix flaws caused by the slipshod work.”

Among six Ospreypads which were built surrounding the Takae community, two were completed in 2015 and turned over to the U.S. military. Since then, U.S. Ospreys have been frequently conducting night-time flight drills at the two helipads, imposing serious noise damage to Takae residents.

A 64-year-old man living in Takae cited PM Abe’s speech on June 23 in the annual memorial ceremony for victims of the 1945 Battle of Okinawa. The man angrily said, “PM Abe in his speech boasted that the partial return of the U.S. Northern Training Area contributed to easing Okinawa’s base burdens, but it forced Takae people to shoulder heavier burdens in exchange for the partial return.”

In Takae, a sit-in protest against the Osprey helipads construction started in 2007. JCP Isa said, “Seeking to put a halt to any kind of construction and the use of all the helipads, we will continue the sit-in protest.”

Past related article:
> Sit-in protest against construction of US Osprey helipads in Takae marks 10th anniversary [June 26, 2017]
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