10:43 GMT +320 September 2019
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    People protesting against restarting the construction of helipads for US forces clash with riot police in Higashi-son, Okinawa prefecture on July 22, 2016

    Okinawa Residents Stage Sit-In Protest Over US Helipad Construction

    © AFP 2019 / STR / JIJI PRESS
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    The residents of Japan's island prefecture of Okinawa have staged a sit-in protest against the construction of helipads for the US military forces in the region, local media reported Friday.

    TOKYO (Sputnik) — The construction, which was suspended two years ago, resumed on Friday morning, according to media reports. 

    ​The local residents are concerned that helipads could be used by the Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, considered to be defective by its opponents. 

    ​In exchange for construction of six helipads, the United States agreed in 1996 to return to Japan almost half of the 17,500 acres of land in the Yanbaru jungles, used by the US forces as a training camp. The Japanese government had built two helipads but construction of the remaining four was halted in 2014 due to the protests.

    Since becoming operational in 2007, the V-22 Osprey has had three crashes resulting in six deaths and several minor incidents.


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