Anti-Osprey march draws 3,000 protesters

A crowd of nearly 3,000 unruly protesters marched through Okinawa streets Sunday, continuing their long-running opposition to assignment of MV-22 Osprey aircraft to the island.

While the primary objective of the demonstration was to oppose the Osprey, protesters also took the opportunity to also complain about plans to keep Futenma Marine Corps Air Station or its replacement within Okinawa.  And to add fuel to the protest fires, demonstrators were vocal in their anger about the rash of incidents involving American servicemen on Okinawa the past couple of months.

Residents and supporters were also visible at demonstrations near the Futenma Main Gate, where their chants called for removal of the controversial MV-22 Osprey aircraft and all U.S. military personnel get out of Okinawa. The Marine Corps began its Osprey training flights shortly after a dozen of the helicopter-airplane hybrids were deployed here from Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station in October.

One protester recalled when a U.S. F-100 super sabre crashed near his home near Miyamori Elementary School in 1959, killing 17 people.  “An accident will certainly happen if the Ospreys continue to fly for five or 10 years,” the 70-year-old said. “Before that happens, the aircraft must be pulled out.”

Another protester, a 70-year-old resident of Urasoe, was irate about the Liberal Democratic Party taking the reins of Japanese government.  His complaint is that the LDP advocates keeping the Futenma base in the prefecture.  Demands for Futenma to be ousted from Okinawa have been decades in the making.  Okinawans continuously point out that this prefecture hosts nearly 74% of the land used for U.S. bases in Japan.

Japan’s central government continues to support the plan to transfer Futenma Marine Corps Air Station from densely populated Ginowan City to a more sparsely populated area in the Henoko district of Nago City in the island’s far north.  That plan remains in line with the agreement Japan signed with the United States several years ago.

  • marc

    I don’t believe 3000 was the number. i was in the area but we are use to inflated numbers vice facts with some of these so called news agencies. But, i have an idea, lets put Chinese emblems on the Osprey and that will stop the protest because we all know they aren’t protesting the fact that Chinese ships and planes are intruding on their territory at will that’s not more important than the Osprey. Okinawa’s need to get their priorities right or i due time i hope you have the ability to Cantonese or Mandarin quickly.

  • James

    Speaking of Chinese flags; they were flying a Chinese flag over by the front gate of Futenma on the very same day of that protest. I drove by, but it was nowhere near 3,000. I’ll settle for 500 from what I saw, and they all looked like they had never been there before. There was groups being led by a guide. Does that mean anything?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ken-Harper/1485921764 Ken Harper

      Damn Americans, you guys are holding a great opportunity for the Okinawa people for the developement of this base. It is a better use for this land. After all they do own this land.

      • smiter jonestaffnot

        No they don’t. Not that it’s even important, but the Okinawans don’t even have an opportunity to own the land. If you knew enough about this island, you’d know that Mainland companies own pretty much all of Okinawa, because the people here keep selling their property for cash.

  • James

    And they weren’t unruly at all. Most of them just sit around picking at their belly buttons. You have a few of them doing the superman go home move, and one guy with a huge bugle saying the same thing over and over.