Japan and the United States are said to be mulling Futenma-based Ospreys conducting night-flight training in Hokkaido to reduce the burden on Okinawa, which hosts the bulk of U.S. bases in Japan.
Is this really the reason Ospreys will be training in the skies over Hokkaido? There is airspace over the ocean off Okinawa that is exclusively reserved for U.S. Marine aircraft to train day and night without inflicting noise pollution on people.
The real reason they must train in Hokkaido is not to reduce the burden on Okinawa but to upgrade the flight skills of pilots to fly low over the vast rising-and-falling terrain of Hokkaido, which Okinawa doesn’t provide.
The U.S. Marines already have plans for low-flight training over several routes set up all across mainland Japan. Will they say this is for the reduction of Okinawa’s burden?
The distance from Okinawa to Hokkaido is 2,200 km, so the round trip is 4,400 km. Who pays for the fuel for the six Ospreys’ round-trip flights, and probably not this time alone? No doubt, it is the Japanese taxpayers because there’s a bilateral agreement that, in cases like troop and equipment transportation for artillery training on the mainland — a measure agreed upon to reduce Okinawa’s burden — all of the costs must be borne by Japan.
This is why the U.S. must say the Ospreys’ night-flight training in Hokkaido is to reduce the burden on Okinawa.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.
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