While the concerned residents of Okinawa did all they could to fight the U.S. Military’s deployment of the controversial MV-22 Osprey aircrafts, the hybrid planes were delivered and began flights this week. That hasn’t stopped the people from raising banners and shouting outside the Futenma air base, but the Okinawa Peace Movement Center has resorted to a different form of protest: flying kites along the base fences with the intentions of disrupting the Ospreys’ flights.
Organized by Hiroji Yamashiro, the group gathered in two places in a nearby park and attempted to fly their kites near the aircrafts as they attempted to land. Yamashiro says he proposed the idea as a way to inspire other Okinawans to stand up and take action, as they feel their refusals to accept the Ospreys was ignored by Japan’s central government. Unsurprisingly, the U.S. Military was displeased with the protestor’s actions, with one official approaching the group and warning them to stop. He reportedly tried to cut the kite strings, but failed.
The people of Okinawa are against the Osprey deployments because of concerns over their safety after a series of fatal accidents involving the aircrafts. Because the Futenma air base is located close to many residential area, people feel their lives are being put at risk just a for a new transport vehicle. The kite-flying protestors responded to warnings with the argument that there is nothing illegal about flying a kite, and that they won’t stop until Okinawans are treated with respect. Pictures of a kite flying near an Osprey were widely circulated on the internet, prompting criticism that these actions will only make the situation worse, and that flying kites near aircrafts won’t do anything to improve their safety.
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