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The US military resumed the additional controversial deployment of Osprey military aircraft to the southern Japanese island of Okinawa on Monday, amid protests over the move. The protests resulted in clashes between locals and police, Chinese press reported.
About 200 local citizens gathered in front of a gate to US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa before the arrival of the eight Osprey to protest the continued deployment. Some shouted, "Osprey, go home."
Continue After The Break.
Okinawa citizens Okinawa stressed their strong concern over safety issues related to the aircraft.
"We’ve seen too many incidents involving US military aircraft. I’ve seen Osprey flying over schools. We can no longer tolerate this"- said one of the rally participants.
Some protesters staged a sit-in to prevent US military transport from entering and exiting the air station. The sit-in led to clashes with police.
Local official expressed their anger with the US Marine move as well:
"I called for a review of deployment plans for close to a year so I feel totally powerless because there has been absolutely no change in the circumstances," said Mayor Atsushi Sakima of the densely populated city of Ginowan, where Futenma is located.
Eight of the tilt-rotor aircraft, which takes off and lands like a helicopter and flies like an airplane, left from US Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni today at about 8 am and arrived at Futenma by noon local time.
A week ago a military rescue helicopter crashed in a mountainous area of Camp Hansen, heightening safety concerns. After the accident the Marines announced they were delaying deployment of 10 Osprey aircraft to Futenma, part of the second Osprey squadron to Japan.
US chopper crashes in Okinawa
An assault helicopter of the US military has crashed on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa, local NHK channel reports.
According to preliminary data, the helicopter hit the ground near Camp Hanson in central Okinawa. No casualties have been reported so far.
12 tilt-rotor aircraft arrive at US base in Japan despite opposition
A cargo ship carrying 12 tilt-rotor aircraft arrived at a US military base in western Japan on Tuesday despite local opposition, reports said.
The MV-22 Osprey are scheduled for deployment at US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma on the southern island of Okinawa in early August, the Kyodo News agency reported.
In September, about 100,000 Okinawans demonstrated to oppose the deployment of the helicopter-plane hybrids at the base, located in the middle of residential areas.
The aircraft that arrived at the US base in Iwakuni Tuesday will join 12 already deployed at the Futenma base to replace aging CH-46 helicopters.
Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima has repeatedly urged Tokyo to reject the US plan because of the Osprey's history of crashes.
Okinawa, comprising less than one percent of Japan's total land mass, hosts about 75 percent of US military facilities in the country.