Some birds are capable of amazing feats in flight.
The Sooty Tern, or "seguro ajisashi," is related to gulls and rarely comes to land except to breed. Sooty terns have more advanced marine habits than other tern species. They swoop down and catch fish that rise to the surface, and can stay out at sea for years, sometimes floating on the water, but most often soaring in flight. Amazingly, these birds can sleep and fly at the same time.
Another outstanding hunter is the Osprey, also known as the fish hawk. When it spots its prey from up in the air, it hovers in place like a helicopter, and then takes aim and dives in for the kill. The Osprey is a master of stunt flying.
One type of U.S. military aircraft bears this bird's name. Used for transportation and other missions by the Marine Corps and the Air Force, the MV-22 Osprey is a tiltrotor aircraft with vertical takeoff and landing capabilities along with the high-speed performance of a fixed-wing plane.
A fleet of Ospreys is planned for deployment at the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa Prefecture, with flight training likely to take place on the Honshu mainland.
Okinawans are vehemently opposed to the deployment. The aircraft's safety record is anything but reassuring. Ospreys have crashed more than once while under development, not to mention the crashes this year in Morocco and the United States. The Futenma air station is located close to populated areas and is already deemed the most dangerous military installation in the world. The last thing residents need are those unsafe aircraft hovering above them.
June 23 marks the 67th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa. Even though Okinawa was returned to Japan 40 years ago, nothing has changed about the reality of this island prefecture that is said to "sit on U.S. military bases."
Throughout these years, the policy of the Japanese government has been to put the Japan-U.S. alliance and developments in Asia ahead of the safety and peace of mind of the people of Okinawa. The planned deployment of MV-22 Ospreys at Futenma is only one example of that.
It would be frivolous of me to say that I prefer the dove to the hawk, as I understand that any national security strategy must be based on cool-headed calculation. But there is something immoral about the excessively unfair burden the people of Okinawa have been forced to bear.
Okinawa should be Japan's "holy land of peace." It definitely does not need to those Osprey aircraft whirring overhead and disturbing the souls of "Himeyuri" (Lily Corps), the young women who perished in the bloody Battle of Okinawa.
--The Asahi Shimbun, June 23
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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.
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