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More than one hundred thousand Okinawan people rallied on September 9, 2012 against the US deployment of MV-22 Osprey aircraft at Ginowan Seaside Park in Ginowan City, in central Okinawa.
This was an "all-prefecture mass rally,” spearheaded by a coalition of National Diet members, prefectural and municipal assembly members and municipal mayors.
The people of Okinawa rallied to express their outrage at the US-Japanese attempt to conceal the plan to deploy the MV-22 Osprey to Okinawa, and by the US-Japanese continued attempt to push through the deployment, despite the prefecture’s absolute refusal. The US Marines want to test and flight train the accident-prone aircraft through congested urban areas, including Ginowan City, a site of a previous flight training crash in 2004, and an ecologically sensitive subtropical rainforest in northern Okinawa.
We are gathered here today to protest with indignation against the forceful deployment of the vertical take-off and landing transport aircraft, the MV-22 Osprey, and to call for the withdrawal of its deployment plans.
Due to the presence of the US forces’ bases, the citizens of Okinawa prefecture have been imposed with a multitude of damages related to military facilities. Looking just at the years since the reversion of Okinawa to Japan in 1972, the number of criminal cases involving US military personnel and/or other related persons has reached close to 6,000. At present, incidents, accidents, and noise damage related to the US forces still continue.
With the abduction and rape of a local schoolgirl by three US servicemen in September of 1995, The Okinawan People’s Rally was held in October of the same year where 85,000 citizens gathered to voice their anger and protest against the US forces. In response to the strong protest by the people, the Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) was established, and both governments of Japan and the United States agreed to the full return of MCAS Futenma.
However, it has been 16 years since the agreement was concluded and MCAS Futenma still remains in the middle of a densely populated urban area and continues to threaten the lives and assets of the Okinawan people.
Against this background, the United States government gave notice that the “structurally defective” Osprey aircraft is going to be deployed to the dangerous facility of MCAS Futenma, and these aircraft have already been unloaded at MCAS Iwakuni in Yamaguchi Prefecture. Furthermore, it has become apparent that the Osprey would be in operation not just at MCAS Futenma, but also in training at Kadena Air Force Base and at the Northern Training Area. With the risks of crashes, accidents, and noise issues resulting from the training and operation of the Osprey which spans throughout all of Okinawa, the concern, anxiety and indignation of the citizens have risen to unprecedented levels.
The Osprey has had repeated accidents since its development stages and has caused a large number of fatalities. We have even seen this year, the crashes in Morocco and in the State of Florida. Experts are citing its structural deficiencies and thus, we cannot accept the Osprey deployment without sound confirmation of its safety.
The citizens of Okinawa adamantly oppose further burdens imposed by the military bases. Moreover, if the national government ignores the calls of the people of the prefecture, we declare that we will work to unite the general consensus of the prefecture’s citizens opposing the bases.
We strongly urge both governments of Japan and the United States to take seriously and sincerely the indomitable resolve of the citizens against the Osprey deployment and to immediately withdraw the deployment plans, and to close and remove MCAS Futenma.
The above is resolved as stated on this 9th day of September, 2012.
The Okinawa Prefectural Citizens’ Rally Against Osprey Deployment
Source: "Okinawa Times"