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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 August 16 - 22  > JCP Hokkaido demands halt to Osprey participation in joint drills
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2017 August 16 - 22 [US FORCES]

JCP Hokkaido demands halt to Osprey participation in joint drills

August 17, 2017
The Japanese Communist Party Hokkaido Prefectural Committee on August 16 made representations to the Defense Ministry’s local bureau, demanding the cancellation of the plan to use U.S. MV-22 Osprey aircraft in the ongoing Japan-U.S. joint military drills in the prefecture.

Earlier this month, a U.S. Marine Corps Osprey crashed in the sea off Australia and three marines on board were killed. In the wake of this fatal accident, the U.S. military decided to suspend the plan to fly the same type aircraft in the training exercises in Hokkaido. However, just a few days later, the U.S. reinstated the original plan by declaring that it had confirmed the tilt-rotor aircraft’s safety. Japan’s Defense Ministry gave its approval to this assessment. The U.S. Marine Corps and Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force have announced that Osprey flights will start on August 18 as part of their joint exercises.

JCP Hokkaido Prefectural Committee Chair Aoyama Keiji and Hokkaido-elected JCP lawmakers Kami Tomoko and Hatayama Kazuya paid a visit to the Hokkaido Defense Bureau in Sapporo City. They said that Hokkaido residents are getting angry and concerned over the Abe government for taking an excessively submissive attitude in its relations with the U.S. and for blindly approving the development of the accident-prone Ospreys to participate in the military exercises.

In response, a bureau official asserted that Ospreys have no mechanical or structural flaw while admitting that the cause of the fatal crash in Australia is still under investigation. He said that the U.S. military’s recognition that MV-22s are safe is enough.

JCP Kami pointed out that what the official in essence said was that Ospreys are safe because the U.S. military says so. Criticizing the plan to conduct night-time flight drills of Ospreys in the joint military exercises in Hokkaido, Hatayama said that last year, an MV-22 crashed during night-time flight drills in Okinawa.

JCP local chair Aoyama quoted the Defense Ministry as saying that it will request the U.S. military to make sure that Ospreys will not fly over residential areas. He criticized the Defense Ministry for not disclosing the planned flight routes, saying, “The ministry pays no attention to residents’ anxiety.”

* * *

On the morning of August 16, three MV-22 Ospreys left the U.S. Iwakuni base in Yamaguchi Prefecture for the U.S. Misawa base in Aomori Prefecture in order to take part in the Japan-U.S. joint drills in Hokkaido, according to Akahata.

A total of six Ospreys will be used in the joint military training exercises. The remaining three are expected to fly from the Iwakuni base soon.

Past related articles:
> Latest crash verifies there is no place for defective US Osprey in Japan [August 7, 2017]
> JCP in Hokkaido Assembly urges governor not to accept Osprey flight drills [August 3, 2017]
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