Defense Ministry says MV-22 Ospreys staying on course

The MV-22 helicopters based at Futenma Marine Corps Air Station are mostly sticking to flight paths designated by Japan and the United States.

That’s the word from the Japanese Defense Ministry, which acknowledges some routes have digressed from the Japan-U.S. agreement, but this doesn’t mean the U.S. military has violated the agreement. The Okinawa Defense Bureau says  a survey of flight paths used by the helicopters between April 2011 and last March shows compliance.

The ministry called last month on U.S. forces to ensure that choppers stick to agreed routes if possible. In response, the U.S. military said it will do all it can to respect the agreement.  Japan and the U.S. agreed to in 2007 keep helicopters away from residential areas. The Okinawa bureau has monitored helicopter routes since January 2010 with four cameras set up around the base.

Toshio Takahashi, a 59-year-old local resident and a plaintiff in a lawsuit against noise from the air station in Ginowan, voiced suspicions over the results of the survey. Takahashi said he often sees copters outside agreed routes. “I wonder on what grounds the local bureau believes the United States keeps to the agreement.”