US Osprey aircraft arrive in Japan amid protests

The United States military’s Osprey aircraft have arrived in Japan as people continue to hold demonstrations against its deployment on Okinawa.

Live TV coverage early on Monday showed Osprey MV-22s being unloaded from a cargo ship at the US Marines’ base in Iwakuni, western Japan, AFP reported.

A large number of activists close to the base were shouting slogans, such as “We don’t want Osprey!” and “Osprey, go back to America!”

The US military wants to have checkups of Osprey aircraft at Iwakuni. It plans to fully deploy on Okinawa in October, but the Okinawans have rejected the US scheme because of security worries.

The Osprey, which is a hybrid aircraft with rotors that facilitate it to take off like a helicopter and engines that can tilt forward, powering it to fly like an airplane at much faster speed than a chopper, has an extremely poor safety record.

Since its early years in 1990s, the aircraft has been plagued with multiple problems and suffered many accidents.

On Sunday, more than 1,000 Japanese demonstrators protested outside Iwakuni against the deployment of Osprey aircraft.

The protestors called on officials to ban the entrance of the aircraft to the US base, saying they are a serious threat to civilian lives.

“If Osprey transport aircraft came, we cannot live here in our hometown, because they are very dangerous,” said one of the demonstrators raising a Red Cross banner.

Japan and the United States have long clashed over Okinawa, the site of enduring tensions with US forces. Around half of the 47,000 US service personnel in Japan are based on the strategically located island, which is nearer to Taiwan than it is to Tokyo.

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