U.S. Ambassador to Japan
Commander U.S. Forces Japan
It has been 16 years since the SACO agreement; seven years since the helicopter crash accident at the Okinawa International University; and six years since the consultations on US forces realignment in Japan. Yet MCAS Futenma still remains in the center of Ginowan city, conducting flight training from early morning to late at night, and the residents in its surrounding communities continue to be exposed to the harmful noise and the risks of aircraft accidents.
Under such conditions, the US Department of Defense officially announced on June 6, 2011, that the MV-22 Osprey, the vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, will be deployed to MCAS Futenma in October 2012, as the Marine Corps’ next major transport aircraft.
The Osprey has repeatedly had mishaps including crashes during its test flights in its development stages and during combat deployments. Despite this and also including the recent incidents in Morocco in April, and in Florida this month, which have all added to a significant number of fatalities and injuries, when it comes to the subject of its deployment, the United States only emphasizes the aircraft’s superiority, that the Osprey is less noisy than the CH-46, and that it is safer.
However, the maximum level of noise at the time of its takeoff and landing exceeds that of the CH-46, and with plans to increase the number of flights during late-nights and early mornings by 204 times a year, it is clear that the noise problem will worsen in communities surrounding the base where takeoffs and landings repeatedly occur on a daily basis.
Additionally, plans to deploy the Osprey to Kadena Air Base have surfaced, and with this and other plans to conduct flight exercises and quick-response operations not only at MCAS Futenma, but throughout the whole island as well as its surrounding islands, the residents from these relevant communities have voiced their concerns and indignations concerning noise and environmental issues, and also their fear of crashes and other such accidents.
Furthermore, despite the suspension of Osprey exercises in New Mexico due to the opposition by the local residents, Defense Minister Morimoto has stated that the investigation report to Japan on the findings of the cause(s) of the Osprey crash in Morocco may possibly be after the deployment of the aircraft to MCAS Futenma. The handling of this issue in such a way is preposterous and absolutely cannot be accepted as it ignores the lives, well-being, and human rights of the residents of the prefecture.
The unilateral approach in which both governments of Japan and the United States are accumulating faits accomplis to make MCAS Futenma a permanent fixture by deploying the dangerous Osprey to within the prefecture, is simply not acceptable as it goes against the strong wishes of the people of Okinawa to “eliminate dangers at the earliest possible date.”
To that end, we, the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly, in our duty to protect the lives, safety and the living environment of the citizens of Okinawa, strongly protest against the plans to deploy the Osprey to within the prefecture, and strongly call for the execution of the items listed below:
I. To not make MCAS Futenma a permanent fixture, but implement its closure and return at the earliest possible date.
II. Clearly determine when MCAS Futenma will be closed and returned.
III. Immediately withdraw the plans to deploy the Osprey.
The above is resolved as stated on this 26th day of June, 2012.
Okinawa Prefectural Assembly