Osaka governor considers allowing Ospreys to fly
Osaka Governor Ichiro Matsui is considering allowing part of training flights by the U.S. Marine Corps’ MV-22 Osprey aircraft to be conducted in the western Japan prefecture.
Matsui, also secretary-general of Nippon Ishin No Kai, the Japan Restoration Party, plans to hold a meeting with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga today to convey his intention to partially accept the Osprey training in Osaka Prefecture. The Marine Corps has 12 MV-22 Ospreys in Japan, all deployed at Futenma Marine Corps Air Station in Ginowan City. The tilt-rotor planes arrived at the Futenma base last October.
Informed sources say the Matsui-Suga meeting will be joined by Toru Hashimoto, mayor of the city of Osaka and co-leader of Nippon Ishin, and Mikio Shimoji, head of Sozo, a regional political party in Okinawa. At the meeting, Matsui is also expected to ask the Japanese government to step up efforts to reduce Okinawa’s burdens related to U.S. military bases and revise the Japan-U.S. status of forces agreement, the sources said.
Residents in Osaka Prefecture may voice opposition to the possible Osprey training in the prefecture. Matsui is apparently trying to show his positive stance on tackling issues concerning U.S. bases in Okinawa after Hashimoto angered people here by saying last month that U.S. servicemen stationed in Japan should use the country’s sex industry to release their sexual tension legally. Okinawa hosts the bulk of U.S. military bases and troops in Japan.
Last month, Osaka Ishin No Kai, Restoration Group, a regional party in Osaka Prefecture led by Hashimoto, and Shimoji’s Sozo signed a policy accord featuring the parties’ cooperation in realizing the relocation of the Futenma marine Corps Air Station to the Henoko coastal area of Nago, also Okinawa, as agreed on by the Japanese and U.S. governments.