one of the demonstrators present at the rally
The protestors called on officials to ban the entrance of Osprey aircraft to the US Air Force camp, 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. In no case should the aircraft land in Yamaguchi Prefecture. They are not welcome here and no test flights are allowed here,” said one of the demonstrators raising a Red Cross banner.
About 12 Osprey transport aircraft have left South Korea’s Pusan on Sunday morning, heading towards Iwakuni province where the US Marine headquarters is located.
The US reportedly aims at replacing several of its aging CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters with the new aircraft.
The Osprey is a hybrid transport aircraft capable of taking off and landing like a helicopter and traveling twice the speed of the CH-46.
The protests come hours after a US F-16 fighter jet crashed on the Pacific Ocean near the Japanese Nemuro city, in Hokkaido.
The aircraft reportedly took off from the US Misawa Air Base in Aomori and was on its way to North America.
Considering the threats the Osprey aircraft pose, Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima stayed against a program scheduled by US officials to deploy more Osprey aircraft at the Futenma Air Station, Japan’s public broadcaster said.
This is while, the US has more than 100 active military bases in Japan.