Kagoshima: Big Anti-Base Demonstration (Again)

There was another big anti-base demonstration today (Saturday May 8, 2010) in Kagoshima Prefecture with some 5,000 people protesting. I love the Kyodo News quote at the end:

Norihisa Hamada, 23, a Kagoshima city resident who grew up on Tokunoshima until graduating from high school, said, "I am worried about the future of the island, which is rich in nature, and I want residents in the prefecture to stand by (the island)."

Clearly people in Kagoshima Prefecture do not want and will not accept a huge U.S. military airfield at Tokunoshima with the Bell/Boeing V-22 Osprey helicopters and U.S. Marines training for - what?

These are some truly noisy machines, not your usual helicopter at all. Do you have any idea what kind of aircraft/helicopter/ this is? No wonder they want to move the airfield from the town of Ginowan: Would You Want 30 Military Bases in Your Backyard?


Promo video (the music is terrible, do turn the volume down):

Video from Discovery:

The V-22 has had several accidents already. From 1991 to 2000 there were four significant crashes, and a total of 30 fatalities, during testing. In 2000, there were two further fatal crashes, killing a total of 19 Marines, and the production was again halted while the cause of these crashes was investigated and various parts were redesigned. There has also been a scandal of falsification of safety records. With the first combat deployment of the MV-22 in October 2007, Time Magazine ran an article condemning the aircraft as unsafe, overpriced, and completely inadequate...

A bit of background from Federation of American Scientists with many images (note the cost of one aircraft - more than $80 million apiece):

The aircraft's prime contractors include Boeing Company's helicopter division in Ridley Park, PA, and Bell Helicopter Textron of Fort Worth TX. In 1986 the cost of a single V-22 was estimated at $24 million, with 923 aircraft to be built. In 1989 the Bush administration cancelled the project, at which time the unit cost was estimated at $35 million, with 602 aircraft. The V-22 question caused friction between Secretary of Defense Richard B. Cheney and Congress throughout his tenure. DoD spent some of the money Congress appropriated to develop the aircraft, but congressional sources accused Cheney, who continued to oppose the Osprey, of violating the law by not moving ahead as Congress had directed. Cheney argued that building and testing the prototype Osprey would cost more than the amount appropriated. In the spring of 1992 several congressional supporters of the V-22 threatened to take Cheney to court over the issue. A little later, in the face of suggestions from congressional Republicans that Cheney's opposition to the Osprey was hurting President Bush's reelection campaign, especially in Texas and Pennsylvania where the aircraft would be built, Cheney relented and suggested spending $1.5 billion in fiscal years 1992 and 1993 to develop it. He made clear that he personally still opposed the Osprey and favored a less costly alternative.

The program was revived by the incoming Clinton administration, and current plans call for building 458 Ospreys for $37.3 billion, or more than $80 million apiece, with the Marines receiving 360 Ospreys, the Navy 48 and the Air Force 50. The first prototype flew in 1989. As of early 2000 three test aircraft had crashed: no one was killed in the 1991 crash, an accident in 1992 killed seven men, and the third in April 2000 killed 19 Marines.

On 16 November 2006, the Air Force officially accepted the CV-22 in a ceremony conducted at Hurlburt Field, Florida (such irony - this was the airfield used for practice for the so-called Doolittle air raids on Tokyo and other cities during WW2).

It has been used in Iraq, Afghanistan and - Honduras.

I think it is safe to say that we absolutely do NOT want it in Japan.

From Peace Philosophy Centre (April 18, 2010):

On April 18, a rally was held in Tokunoshima Island, Kagoshima Prefecture to oppose the relocation of Futenma Air Station in Okinawa to the Island. The participation of 15,000 people, 60% of the population of about 26,000, is a record-breaking size of gathering on the island.


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