Anti-American protesters in Okinawa have been flying kites and balloons around a US airbase in protest against the deployment of the supposedly accident-prone V-22 Osprey to the islands, in what critics suspect is an effort to deliberately induce an accident to better prove their point.
According to media reports, a group of 20 Okinawan “peace activists” gathered outside Futenma airbase in order to fly kites and let off balloons in protest at the recent deployment of 12 of the US military’s Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey transport aircraft to the islands.
They were joined by 130 protesters, from whom they raised ¥70,000 “so we can fly more kites and raise more balloons,” and ominously proclaimed “if the people of this prefecture are serious, we can stop the Osprey!”
Police and USMC MPs observed the protest from a distance, but did not intervene. It is not clear whether the kites and balloons were ever in the flight path of any of the Ospreys, or whether they would have any effect beyond being shredded were an Osprey to collide with one.
The Okinawa media has also been lovingly running reports of a 5-year-old girl coached into saying that “we don’t want typhoons and the Osprey coming to Okinawa, because it is a bad airplane,” amongst other reports which generally contrive to suggest the plane is little more than an aerial bomb poised to fall on Okinawan homes.
One report claimed that even Hawaiians opposed the plane being deployed to Okinawa (no such reports were apparent in the US media), and even the NHK could not resist broadcasting pictures of Ospreys “appearing to undergo maintenance for 5 days without moving” at one of their stops at Japanese airbases along their route to Okinawa.
A subsequent protest saw a further 750 complain of the aircraft’s presence, with the communist party vowing to chase the aircraft back to America.
Occasional expressions of pro-Osprey sentiment have gone largely unreported:
And for those wondering just why friends of China might be so concerned about the aircraft’s presence, or why the US and Japan might be so keen on it:
As the US military’s first tilt-rotor aircraft, the V-22 Osprey has had a long and relatively controversial development history stretching from inception in 1981 to full introduction in 2007, coloured by massive cost overruns, inter-service politicking, and most notoriously a variety of design flaws and deadly accidents.
Whilst now in full deployment throughout the US and beyond, in Japan there has been considerable opposition to their deployment from left-wing anti-American activists citing concerns about them falling in populated areas or increasing tensions with China.
However, it has also been noted that in most cases these critics are completely opposed to any US presence in any case, whether for political reasons or simply because they are greatly aggrieved by US forces turning vast tracts of Okinawa into bases which the Japanese government has been largely unable to persuade the US to reduce, to say nothing of them occasionally killing and raping locals.
The Japanese government’s response has been to ask the US government to assure it that the aircraft are totally safe, which it did, and to allow the deployment to go ahead, but for some reason this did little to appease the Okinawans stuck with most of the US bases and aircraft.
Whilst Okinawans are noted for their hatred of US forces, the majority of Japanese are staunchly in favour of US forces being present (as long as most of them are dumped on faraway Okinawa, at any rate), and many are aghast at the clear implication that the Okinawan protesters are hoping to down or otherwise endanger US aircraft with their kite and balloon antics:
“Are they trying to down one?”
“Of course they are.”
“They are obviously trying to cause an accident here.”
“They are praying every day for one to crash.”
“They are desperate for one to fall on a city.”
“If one gets into the engine of an Osprey and brings it down, will they take responsibility for the deaths?”
“They will just blame it on the Osprey being defective.”
“This has nothing to do with the planes having a high accident rate – this is sheer terrorism.”
“Do they really think anyone would be persuaded when they do such reckless stuff?”
“These are just crazed leftists trying to actively down one!”
“This is no protest, this is attempting to interfere with an aircraft.”
“Are these people idiots? And with China gearing up to try to get hold of Okinawa…”
“Just a bunch of Chinese stooges.”
“If one goes down it will be China who have the last laugh.”
“No wonder they all hate it, look at the range on that thing – it can reach Shanghai and the Senkaku islands.”
“It is pretty clear who is behind all these protests over the Osprey.”
“Yet when China is busy rolling out its new arsenal of missiles and helicopters the mass media and leftists are silent!”
“Finally, should anything happen the US has made its intentions clear with this deployment.”
“We need these for the SDF, they would be an ace when it comes to defending outlying islands.”
“The Osprey deployment is really just an advertisement intended to get us to buy them up.”
“Let’s see what happens when we try flying kites around the Chinese and Korean embassies!”
“They are enemies of both Japan and the USA, they really ought to be locked up.”
“Arrest them, this is terrorism!”
“This is probably about as effective as a bamboo spear is against a B29.”
“Could a kite even have any effect on one of their engines?”
“Get a Stinger if you are that desperate to down one!”
“Weren’t these groups supposed to be trying to make Okinawa a safer place?”