U.S. Special Operations Command CV-22 Ospreys at Yokota Air Base, Japan

revised: June 23, 2019

Original Text | Comments & Criticisms | Other CV-22 Concerns | Additional Information |
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References | My Japan Experience | Photographs

U.S. Special Operations Command CV-22 Ospreys at Yokota Air Base, Japan:
Problems in Their Mission and in Displaying a Machine Gun over Dense Residential Areas
Plus a Number of Other Problems Related to the CV-22 Ospreys at Yokota Air Base

April 25, 2019

The purpose of this web page is to help the U.S. Air Force at Yokota Air Base, Japan, improve its image and its relationships with the local Japanese people. The way the U.S. Air Force went about stationing its CV-22 Ospreys at Yokota Air Base, and their flying around over the densely populated residential areas around the base with a machine gun pointing out the backend have caused the opposition to the CV-22s and to the base as a whole to increase in strength and in the number of people protesting. And minimally, flying around over dense urban areas in another and friendly people's country with a machine gun showing is NOT necessary when flying from the base to the training area.

Further, this irritant to the local population is just one of many things the U.S. military in Japan is doing that irritate the local people and that also are not necessary.

April 10, 2019

The U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command's CV-22 Ospreys have been at the Yokota Air Base near my house since April 5, 2017. The mission of these aircraft is assassination, abduction and destruction of enemy personnel and facilities. They are not cargo aircraft. I frequently see them flying around with the backend open (the loading ramp). Some of my photos show only two people there, but some of my photos show an M2 (12.7 mm) machine gun pointing out the back and bent down toward the ground below. The ground below is a dense urban area filled with houses, schools, hospitals and many other things, including my house.

Would the U.S. Air Force be allowed to do this in the U.S.?

Since their arrival at Yokota Air Base last April, these CV-22 Ospreys have been recorded 17 times flying around over the local urban area with the M2 (12.7mm) machine gun hanging out the backend. One time in June, 5 times in July, 3 times in August, 5 times in November, and 1 time in January this year, and 2 times in March. The one in January (on the 4th) was also photographed at Misawa Air Base in northern Japan with the M2 (12.7mm) machine gun hanging out the backend (Aireview April 2019). It was at Misawa for training. The caption with the photo says this CV-22 Osprey belongs to Det. 1, 353 Special Operations Group, which is located at Yokota Air Base.

The local people have never been informed of this. They learned it by observing the aircraft.

Would the U.S. Air Force get away with this in the U.S.?

The deployment of the CV-22 Ospreys to Yokota Air Base was originally scheduled for 2017, but that was delayed to 2019 shortly after the announcement. Then, at the beginning of April last year (2018), the local people around Yokota Air Base were told that the deployment to Yokota Air Base had been advanced to April 5th, a few days later. By the time of that announcement, the CV-22s had already been seen being unloaded at the dock near Yokohama. The advancement in their deployment could no longer be kept a secret.

Would the U.S. Air Force get away with that in the U.S.?

The Japanese government had been told of this advancement in the deployment about a month earlier, in March, but it did not tell its own people. It supported a foreign military instead.

Would the U.S. government get away with something like that in the U.S.?

Yokota Air Base officially is a transport base: cargo and passengers. But the CV-22 Osprey is a front-line attack aircraft. Stationing these aircraft at Yokota Air Base violates this official explanation of the base's mission. Further, the U.S. military started parachute training at Yokota Air Base in 2012. This is another violation of the official explantion of the base's mission.

Would the U.S. military get away with something like this in the U.S.?

The book by Aoki, listed below, is a very good book. Aoki is one of Japan's leading military journalists, and he very likely is the best one on the V-22 Ospreys. He is very thorough and objective. He likes the V-22 Ospreys, but he discusses their flaws and weaknesses fully. His book is very useful to both those who support the V-22 Ospreys and those who oppose it. I oppose it. Among many other reasons, I disagree with the CV-22 Osprey's mission. I also think it is much too complicated. I have talked to an MV-22 Osprey (Marines) pilot and a local C-130 pilot (and I have about 1,000 hours flying time on the C-130). I asked both of them the same question: "In very tough competition, which aircraft would win?" They both agreed (the C-130 pilot emphatically) that the C-130 would win. The V-22 (MV-22 & CV-22) cannot compete with the C-130. Most people grossly under-estimate the capabilities of the "ugly duckling" C-130.


April 21, 2019
revised: May 23, 2019


These comments and criticisms of what I have posted on this web page are coming from people highly qualified to comment on and criticize what I have said. These comments and criticisms are just as valuable to the purpose of this web page as the content I have posted.

Mission of the CV-22 Ospreys:
In the original text, I said that the mission of the CV-22 is assassination, abduction and destruction of enemy personnel and facilities.

Comments: Several commenters have expressed the belief that I am highly ill-informed about the mission of the AFSOC CV-22s. They say the mission of the CV-22 is to provide agile mobility into and out of hostile environments and serve as a personnel recovery platform, such as aviators downed on the battlefield. One commenter asked where I got the assassinaton-abduction mission statement.

A commenter directly connected to the topic provided a link to an Air Force Fact Sheet that describes the AFSOC CV-22 in layman's terms. This fact sheet should be looked at.

Displaying Machine Guns:
In the original text, I noted (complained) that the Yokota Air Base CV-22s were flying around over dense urban areas with a machine gun pointing out the open backend.

Comments: The commenters say that the CV-22s that I and other local Japanese residents observe in our area are on routine training missions, including displaying their machine guns, which are defensive. The CV-22s in the U.S. fly in the same configuration. They practice the same way that they fly in real missions.

My Response:

  • The Mission of the CV-22s at Yokota Air Base: The commenters say the mission of the CV-22 is to provide agile mobility into and out of hostile environments and serve as a personnel recovery platform, such as aviators downed on the battlefield.

    Aoki (2019, p. 100) says the MV-22 and the CV-22 have basically the same mission: to deliver personnel and supplies. But, he says, the Air Force's CV-22B must also be capable of flying at minimum altitude above terrain for its mission. Hence, it is equipped with the AN/APQ-186 multimode radar. He gives the mission as secret actions, parachute drops, and insertion and retrieval of ground troops in battle zones (Aoki 2019, p. 135). This means that the CV-22s are equipped to fly at night at low altitude in very uneven terrain. In fact, the CV-22s at Yokota Air Base do most of their flying between 4:00 p.m. and the flying curfew at 10:00 p.m.

    Koshiba (2018A, p. 22) says that the U.S. Air Force's Environmental Review for the CV-22 Beddown at Yokota Air Base (dated 24 Feb 15) gives the purpose of the CV-22s at Yokota Air Base as strengthening the capabilities of the AFSOC. He says that ER says that, if the CV-22s are not deployed at Yokota Air Base, the AFSOC will not be able to accomplish its mission of insertion and retrieval of personnel, or its night missions, causing lengthy delays in getting to battlefields.

    In short, the missions of the CV-22 are to insert and/or retrieve personnel in hostile areas, and to rescue personnel caught/downed in hostile areas, and sometimes after dark and in rough terrain. A rescue mission will be an unplanned mission and, therefore, the mission of the personnel being rescued is not the mission of the CV-22. But when the mission is planned, then the mission of the personnel being inserted or retrieved is, by association, the mission of the CV-22. Who are these personnel and what is their mission? Navy Seals were inserted into Pakistan, and they assassinated Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011. Therefore, the mission of the helicopters that carried the Seals to Pakistan was assassination.

    May 23, 2019

    On the killing of Osama bin Laden. I have used assassanated, and this is the word used in many sources. But many sources use killed instead. One of the people commenting on this web page gave me the following view of the killing of Osama bin Laden.

    Taking out Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011 was a legal act of war (Global War on Terrorism). In the same manner that the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 was a declaration of war against the United States, bin Laden declared war on the U.S.A with the concurrent coordinated hijackings and crashing of four American commercial passenger airliners on U.S. soil on September 11, 2001 (9/11), with the loss of almost 3,000 innocent lives. It is a shame that bin Laden was allowed to live a decade after that attack on America.

    May 13, 2019

    Koshiba (2018B, pp. 2-3) discusses ideas that are in the media about the purpose/mission of the CV-22 Ospreys at Yokota Air Base. He gives the following five ideas that are common in the media.
    • The CV-22 Ospreys at Yokota Air Base enhance Japan's "prevention" strength.
    • The CV-22 Ospreys were deployed to Yokota Air Base against the North Korean threat.
    • The Special Operations Forces are for quick reaction in times of emergencies.
    • The CV-22 Ospreys at Yokota Air Base are only for the purpose of transporting the Special Operations Forces of the Army and Navy.
    • The Special Operations Forces are small units within the main military units. They receive special training for the purpose of getting into [enemy territory], assassinating [enemy leaders], and destroying [facilities].
    But Koshiba says these ideas are either wrong or not clear understandings of the facts. He says a major cause of these errors and misunderstandings is the secrecy surrounding the Special Operations Forces. Koshiba says these Special Operations Forces's missions are not simply to assassinate, abduct or destroy. Their mission includes training the militaries of other countries, helping with nation building, and conducting diplomacy. He then lists six missions for the Special Operations Forces.
    • setting up secret bases
    • operating drones
    • abducting, assassinating, and conducting spy activities and intelligence collection in support of quick reactions
    • using civilian military companies
    • conducting cyber attacks
    • training and strengthening the militaries of friendly countries

    My opinion: If the CV-22 Ospreys are involved in any of these missions, then, by association, that mission becomes the mission of the CV-22 Ospreys. Of course, the U.S. military is not going to come out publicly and say the mission of the Special Operations Forces (and the aircraft that deliver them) is assassination or abduction. The world would scream. But that does not mean assassination and abduction are not part of the overall mission of the Special Operations Forces and, when part of that mission, of the CV-22 Ospreys at Yokota Air Base.

    A news article in early May 2019 reported that U.S. Special Operations Forces were stationed at three bases in Japan: Yokota Air Base, Kadena Air Base, and Torii Station. Torii Station is the Army's Green Berets. The article says that the missions of the SOF are to enter deeply into battle zones or enemy territory to train local militaries, rescue prisoners and other people caught in hostile territory, to make sudden attacks on enemy bases, and to assassinate or abduct selected personnel.

    * Note: Torii Station is very close to Kadena Air Base. From the middle of the Kadena runway to the middle of Torii Station is about 3.5 km. At their closest points, the two bases are separated by only 1.5 km. It would be very easy for them to work together on missions.

  • Displaying Machine Guns: I am sure the CV-22s we see around Yokota Air Base are on routine training missions and that the machine guns are defensive. And I am sure they practice the same way that they fly real missions.

    But, between Yokota Air Base and the training area, these CV-22s are flying at low altitude over densely populated urban areas, small areas with 10s of 1,000s of humans packed together. Within 3 kilometers of the center of the Yokota runway, there are well over 100,000 people, 30 schools, and lots of hospitals and other things of dense urban areas. This is not farmland around Yokota Air Base.

    And "practicing as they fly real missions" does not require them to display the machine gun until they get to the training area, which is somewhere in the mountains where humans do not live in dense urban packs. The machine gun can be withdrawn easily and rapidly into the cargo area until the CV-22 gets to some place that is not filled with humans (Aoki 2019, pp. 106-109). The machine gun does not have to be displayed on the flight from the base to the training area. But it is being displayed, and the people in these urban areas see these machine guns, pointed down at them, and they are irritated, even angry, about it.

    When you are doing something that irritates the neighbors and that you do not have to do, sensible people stop doing it.

    This displaying of the CV-22's machine gun while flying at low altitude over densely populated urban areas around the base is very bad public relations for Yokota Air Base and for the U.S. military in Japan. It has increased the strength and numbers of the protests considerably.

  • A Third Point: Where in the vicinity of Yokota Air Base in Tokyo, Japan, might the "hostile environments" and "battlefields" where aviators might be downed be located? I can think of only three: North Korea, China and Russia. Does the U.S. have plans for inserting personnel into any of these countries? Or of needing to rescue a downed aviator from any of these countries?


June 14, 2019

On Displaying the Machine Gun (Part II)

Comment Received:
One of the justifications I get for the CV-22 Ospreys at Yokota Air Base flying around with the machine gun showing is: "If the protesters were to stroll the beaches around Hurlburt Field, they would readily see that the CV-22 crews conduct operations from the base with a machine gun in full view."

My Response:
Yes, the protesters would readily see that in the U.S. it is over beaches but in Japan it is over densely populated urban areas, over their homes, over their heads. The protesters would see just how unfair it is. And their protests would get even stronger.

Just because something is acceptable in the U.S. does not justify doing it in somebody else's country. Using American standards to justify the behavior of Americans in somebody else's country is at best very ethnocentric.

Beaches in Florida in the U.S., the home country of the CV-22s, are not in any way comparable to densely populated urban areas in Japan, somebody else's country. These are two absolutely different situations. They cannot be compared.

Further, in Japan the neighbors are complaining, and showing the machine guns between the base and the training area is not in any way necessary. So why does the U.S. military in Japan go on irritating its neighbors? How does that in any way benefit the U.S. military's mission in Japan?

And one more question. Are the Japanese protesters in their own country the ones with the responsibility for understanding what the U.S. military is doing (unnecessarily) in the country of the Japanese people? Or is the U.S. military (a foreign military in Japan) the one with the responsibility for understanding the sensitivities of the local Japanese people protesting the display of the machine guns over there own homes in their own country?

I am sure that, if the protesters saw the CV-22 Ospreys over the beaches of Florida, they would protest the CV-22s in Japan even more. "It is a double standard. Beaches in the U.S., but over densly populated urban areas in Japan."

Using what the CV-22s do over beaches in the U.S. to justify what they do over densely populated urban areas in somebody else's country is an unacceptable justification. I disagree strongly and completely. And I am sure the other local people protesting the CV-22 Ospreys flying around over urban areas with a machine gun in full view also disagree strongly and completely.


April 30, 2019
revised: May 13, 2019


The Japanese people around Yokota Air Base have a number of other concerns related to the CV-22s at the base. Here are some of them.

The protests frequently bring up the problem of the safety of the CV-22, its "high" accident rate. Aoki discusses this problem quite thoroughly in his Chapter 9 (Aoki 2019, pp. 156-171). He first discusses the individual V-22 accidents (pp. 156-166). Then he defines the classes of accidents (pp. 166-168). Class A accidents are $2.0 million or more in property damage, or loss of the aircraft or personnel death or permanent serious injury. Class B accidents are $500,000 to less than $2.0 million in property damage or permanent serious injury or 3 or more personnel hospitalized. In the last part of the chapter (pp. 169-171), Aoki gives the class A accident rates per 100,000 flying hours for the MV-22B and CV-22B and various other aircraft.

The graph on p. 171 shows the CV-22B rates for the years 2012 to 2017. The rates vary each year between 1.93 and 3.32. Class A accident rates for other types of aircraft are given on pp. 170 & 171. The following list gives those aircraft and their class A accident rates.

AV-8B is the Harrier II
F-15 Eagle2.34
F-16 Fighting Falcon3.43
F-22A Raptor5.19
HH-60 Pave Hawks3.55
H-53 Stallion7.51

In this context, the accident rate of the CV-22B is not unusually high (Aoki p. 3). However, this fact is not getting to the people protesting the CV-22 Ospreys at Yokota Air Base. If it did get to them, their protests against the base might get stronger -- most of the aircraft on the list above visit Yokota Air Base from time to time.

A newspaper article on March 21, 2019, gave the following accident rates for the CV-22 and three other types of aircraft as of September 2018.

Class A accident rates:
CV-22 (5.84)
F-22 (6.11) (production already stopped)
C-130 (0.82)
Class B accident rates:
CV-22 (42.08)
B-1 (18.69)
C-130 (1.47)


One worry the local people have is the very low frequency noise the CV-22 puts out. They are concerned about its effects on health. So far, they have no answer to that worry. But, in that context, I sometimes can feel a CV-22 coming in the direction of my house before I can actually hear it.

The real problem is the extreme noise they make flying in helicopter mode over residential areas. One night one of them was right over my house, obviously low and in helicopter mode, and the noise was so loud I could not hear the TV at all, and the whole house was shaking like a strong earthquake. The doors and windows were rattling, and the water in the glass on the table was whipping around and almost spilling out of the glass. When a CV-22 goes over my house in flight mode, the house and table shake but the windows and doors do not rattle.

In April 2019, I was in a local bookstore, a ferro-concrete building, when a CV-22 flew over. As it approached, it sounded like a herd of a thousand buffelo stampeding toward me across the prairie. When it got right over the building, the roar inside was tremendous. I do not know if the building actually shook, but the sensation of shaking was certainly real.

And there are many other complaints about the noise the CV-22s make. They definitely are noisier than the other aircraft that are on or that visit Yokota Air Base.

May 27, 2019
revised: May 29, 2019

"Noise has been and always will be an issue among locals living near airfields, more so with air facilities in heavily populated area such as around Yokota." True. But the CV-22 Ospreys are much noisier than other aircraft on Yokota Air Base, and, unlike the other types of aircraft, when the CV-22 Ospreys are noisiest they do not go away. They hoover over the taxiway and make a horrible amount of noise for 10 or 15 minutes or more.

And, in a display of a complete lack of common sense, they are doing this hoovering practice on a taxiway about 50 m away from the few Japanese residents (two car repair shops with houses above the shop) near the base. These people built their shops there because they could tolerate the noise from the base and their own noise and stenches would not bother neighbors, because they had no neighbors except the base and the big IHI factory. But when the CV-22 Ospreys did hoovering practice in front of their shops, the people could not hear their TVs, they could not even carry on a conversation, and they had to stop work because the Ospreys kick up a fine dust that would damage the cars. The U.S. military could have had that hoovering practice done on the south end of the base in front of the east housing area where the noise would bother the Americans far more than the Japanese neighbors.

Violations of Agreements:
The CV-22s regularly violate agreements. They are supposed to stay above 300 m when outside the base area. I frequently see them well below that out over the city. They are not supposed to be in helicopter mode outside the base. I frequently see them in helicopter mode out over the city. I have seen them in helicopter mode as far as 3 km from the base. And they have been reported flying at night with no lights over one of the cities south of the base. That is a violation of law.


revised: May 17, 2019


April 22, 2019

Caption with a Photo:
U.S. Air Force CV-22B (12-0067 / Det. 1, 353 SOG) was one of two CV-22Bs at Misawa Air Base for training on January 4th this year. They were using training area R-130. Using Misawa Air Base as the base for training has become a common practice. This year they came just as the year began. The photo shows a 12.7 mm machine gun on the loading ramp at the backend of the aircraft. (Ogawa 2019)

  • This photo of a CV-22 at Misawa Air Base was taken by Ogawa Ryo and published in the (English title) "Aviation Photo[sic] by Readers" section of the magazine Aireview, April 2019. Aireview advertizes itself (in English) as "Since 1951 Monthly Aviation Magazine." The topics cover all things related to aviation past and present, commercial and military, worldwide. This April issue had a cover article on the new Russian SU-57. The photos by readers usually is 4 to 5 pages, about half commercial aircraft and half military aircraft, and about half the military aircraft are U.S. aircraft and about half are Japanese Self-Defense Forces aircraft. Aireview and its writers clearly have the full cooperation of the U.S. and Japanese militaries.
  • Note the degree of specific information the photographer was able to give with his photo.
  • Aireview puts out occasional expanded issues. I have Aireview's U.S. Military Aircraft Today (in Japanese), the November 1966 expanded issue, 296 pages detailing all the U.S. military aircraft in operation at that time.
  • Airplane photography (airplane mania) is a major hobby in Japan. I almost always see at least a few around Yokota Air Base. And the number swells in direct relation to the level of rarity of the airplanes coming or going from the base. President Trump jammed just about every square meter of free land within sight of the base.


April 25, 2019

The U.S. Air Force's CV-22Bs belong to the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), headquartered at Hurlburt Field, Florida (Aoki 2019, pp. 134-138). They presently are stationed at only 4 air bases, 2 in the U.S., 1 in England and 1 in Japan. But the one in Japan, Yokota Air Base, is the only unit that is a detachment of the main Special Operations Group (SOG) unit and located a long distance away from the main unit. The 353 SOG main unit is at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan.
AFSOC units with the CV-22B Ospreys (Aoki 2019, pp. 136-138)
1 SOW, 8 SOS, Hurlburt Field, Florida
27 SOW, 20 SOS Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico
352 SOW, 7 SOS Mildenhall Air Base, England
353 SOG, Det. 1,** Yokota Air Base, Tokyo, Japan *
492 SOW, 19 SOS, Hurlburt Field, Florida

* Aoki (pp. 2-3) notes that Japan was the first country outside the U.S. to get V-22 Ospreys (MV-22s), the first country outside the U.S. to get both Marine and Air Force Ospreys (with the Navy planned), and the first country to (planned) buy Ospreys.

June 2, 2019

Correction to the "(planned)" in the last line above. Japan already owns 5 V-22 Ospreys and plans to buy 12 more. But...these 5 Ospreys are still in the U.S. because the government cannot get the local people's approval to station them at Saga Airport in Kyushu. When the local people approved the building of the Saga Airport, one of the conditions was that the military would NOT be stationed there. Then suddenly (in 2015?), the government said it was buying the Ospreys and would station them at Saga Airport. The local people said "NO" again. So the 5 Ospreys Japan already owns have "temporary housing" in the U.S.

Again, suddenly, on May 24, 2019, the government said it planned to station the Ospreys "temporarily" at the Japanese Self Defense Forces base in Kiserazu, across Tokyo Bay from downtown Tokyo. The local people there so far have not agreed to this plan, so the government goes on "explaining," and the Ospreys go on "living" in their "temporary housing" in the U.S.

June 23, 2019

** Det. 1, 353 SOG Becomes 21 SOS July 1, 2019:
Yokota Air Base office of public relations on July 22 informed the Japanese North Kanto Ministry of Defense office that the CV-22 Osprey unit at Yokota Air Base, now Det. 1, 352 SOG, would become the 21 SOS effective July 1, 2019. This will bring the USAF SOC CV-22 Osprey squadrons from the present four to five, 3 in the U.S., 1 in England, and the new one in Japan. A special maintenance unit for the Ospreys also will be established, the 753 aircraft maintenance squadron. And the unit commander will be upgraded from major to lt. col. (Note: One of the airplane mania people showed me this news on his smart phone on June 20, 2 days before the official announcement. That report also said the local mayors would be invited to the initiation ceremony on Yokota Air Base on July 1.)

The Yokota Air Base office of public relations gives the mission of the new unit as tilt-rotor support for the U.S. Pacific special operations forces and the U.S. special operations forces in Korea.

The 21 SOS was a helicopter unit in England, and it took part in the war in Iraq. It was disbanded in 2007 with the introduction of the CV-22 Ospreys. The U.S. Air Force Speical Operations Command has acquired 51 CV-22 Ospreys since 2007.


May 17, 2019

Fussa Opinions on Yokota Air Base::
Near the end of last year (2018), a major newspaper published the results of a poll asking residents of Fussa City (Yokota Air Base covers a sizable portion of the city's land) about their opinions concerning Yokota Air Base. A majority (53.1%) said that there was nothing that could be done about the base being here, but that they would like improvement in the noise and some other things. A smaller number (21.8%) said that there was nothing that could be done about the base being here, and its presence was a matter for the national government, not for the local people. Only 11.0% said they favored the base being here, that it is necessary for national defense.

* Note: My interpretation of the results is that almost 75% of the Fussa residents simply accept what cannot be changed. And the article did not say what the answers were for the 14.1% not accounted for in the text. These would most likely be "no opinion" and "opposed," leaving a possibility of no more than 14% of the residents outright opposed to Yokota Air Base.


May 20, 2019

Cannon Air Force Base vs. Yokota Air Base

One point that the people protesting the CV-22 Ospreys at Yokota Air Base complain strongly about is the very different processes for the environmental reviews at Cannon Air Force Base in the U.S. and Yokota Air Base in Japan. In the U.S., the local residents got a chance to express their opinions on the Air Force's plans, but in Japan the Air Force's plan was confirmed before the local residents or affected municipalities even knew about the plan. They never had a chance to express their opinions on the plan. The U.S. Air Force simply ignored the local people in the planning and carrying out of the deployment of the CV-22 Ospreys at Yokota Air Base. In Japan, the only "local residents" the U.S. military has to consult for approval of its plans and actions is the U.S. military itself.

The double standard, U.S. vs. Japan, is blatant.

Further, there is only circumstantial evidence for another major complaint, but the deployment to Yokota Air Base looks very much like a decision that was made because the residents affected by the planned low-altitude training at Cannon Air Force Base refused to allow the Air Force to go through with its plans there. The plan for Yokota Air Base came up shortly after it was obvious the AFSOC would not be able to carry out its planned training in the U.S. Yokota Air Base apparently was selected, despite the fact that the headquarter unit is in Okinawa, because the rough mountainous terrain the low-altitude training needed was in Gunma Prefecture, about 15 minutes by CV-22 to the north of Yokota Air Base, and Yokota Air Base controlled all the necessary air space (Yoshida 2019, pp. 43-45). (See Yokota Air Space)

The process at the two bases as described by Koshiba 2019A:

Cannon Air Force Base:

  • The Draft Environmental Assessment for the Establishment of Low Altitude Training for Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico, dated August 2012, was publicized in the newspapers and on the Internet and in other media, and the details were available to the public.
  • Many public hearings were held, and email and other means of communication were used. The process continued in 2012 and beyond. The final opinion of the local residents was "No" to the planned training.
  • In July 2013, the Commander U.S. Forces Pacific announced that CV-22 Ospreys were going to be deployed to Yokota Air Base.
Koshiba's comment (p. 19): There is no solid evidence, but...the training planned for Cannon Air Force Base was directed at Afghanistan and other mountainous regions in that area, and the training was to take place in the mountains of New Mexico and Colorado. Yokota Air Base has the mountains of Gunma, Niigata and Nagano prefectures. A very similar environment.

Yokota Air Base:

  • The plan to station CV-22 Opreys at Yokota Air Base was announced in July 2013.
  • The Environmental Review for the CV-22 Beddown at Yokota Air Base (24 Feb 15) was made public on February 24, 2015.
  • The plan to station CV-22s at Yokota Air Base was confirmed on May 11, 2015.
  • The Japanese translation of the ER was made public by the Japanese Ministry of Defense (on its web site) on October 14, 2015, eight (8) months after the U.S. made the English original public, and the explanations to the affected municipalies and prefectures were started.
    • The ER contained no information on the CV-22 mission, flight routes, or training purposes and content.
    • There were no explanation gatherings for local directly affected residents. Local residents had no say in the planning or deployment.
  • The ER said 3 CV-22 Ospreys would arrive at Yokota Air Base in late 2017, and another 7 would arrive by 2021.
  • On March 14, 2017, the deployment of the CV-22 Ospreys to Yokota Air Base was suddenly put off to fiscal year 2020.
  • On April 3, 2018, the U.S. military suddenly announced that the scheduled deployment had been advanced -- to the date the announcement was made.
(1) The advanced deployment:
When the U.S. military suddenly announced that the scheduled deployment had been advanced, the CV-22 Ospreys had already been seen being unloaded at the dock near Yokohama. The advanced deployment could no longer be kept secret. But the U.S. had told the Japanese government about the advancement a few weeks earlier in March, but asked them to keep that secret.

The Japanese government supported a foreign military against its own people.

(2) The "on again, off again" deployment:
My memory: In early March 2017, North Korea's Kim said something threatening and named Yokota Air Base. A week later the U.S. Air Force announced that the deployment of the CV-22 Opreys would be put off because the aircraft, pilots, crews and other things were not yet ready. Then in early 2018 it was obvious the first Trump-Kim meeting almost certainly would take place soon. Suddenly the CV-22 Ospreys and all necessary things were available for deployment. Trump and Kim met in Singapore on June 11, 2018.

The circumstantial evidence suggests a cause-effect relationship. Which in turn implies the U.S. military's explanations for putting off the deployment were just excuses, not wholly facts.

May 25, 2019

(3) The secrecy about the advancement:
I do not know why the U.S. military wanted to keep the advancement in the deployment secret from the local Japanese people, even as it told the Japanese government. The secrecy just delayed the protests. But protests before the CV-22 Ospreys arrived would be nothing more serious than noisy; they would not involve any physical actions or anything that would in any way interfere with the deployment.

But what the secrecy did accomplish was to increase the the local people's distrust of the U.S. military, increse the local people's distrust of their own government, and increase the strength of the local people's protests against the CV-22 Opreys at Yokota Air Base. All losses from the point of view of the U.S. military.


May 20, 2019

Yokota Air Space

The U.S. military (Yokota Air Base) controls a huge amount of the air space around Yokota Air Base (Yoshida 2019, pp. 43-45). It controls most of the air space over four prefectures (Kanagawa, Tokyo, Saitama and Gunma), a part of the air space over five prefectures (Shizuoka, Yamanashi, Niigata, Nagano and Tochigi), and a bit of the air space over one prefecture (Fukushima). Ten of Japan's 47 prefectures. Japan CANNOT fly any of its own airplanes in this air space without the permission of the U.S. military. Commercial flights must either go around this air space or fly above it.

This air space is divided into six sections, each with a different maximum altitude.
sectionaltitude (m)altitude (ft)
62438.4 8,000

  • Section 1 covers most of Gunma and part of Niigata and Nagano. It is mountainous.
  • Section 2 covers most of Saitama and a bit of Tochigi. This is mostly plain.
  • Section 3 covers the mountainous western parts of Saitama, Tokyo and Kanagawa, and the mountainous eastern parts of Yamanashi and Shizuoka.
  • Section 4 covers the southern part of Kanagawa and a good bit of Sagami Bay south of that prefecture.
  • Section 5 covers the northern part of Kanagawa and the central part of Tokyo. This land is the western edge of the plain into the foothills and the eastern edge of the mountains. Yokota Air Base is in this section.
  • Section 6 is the eastern part of Kanagawa and Tokyo. This is plain or low hills.

* Yoshida 2019 is 277 pages of text on how the U.S. military has total or almost total freedom and control in a large part of Japan's air space.


May 17, 2019

U.S. Military Problems in Okinawa Prefecture

The people protesting the CV-22 Ospreys at Yokota Air Base are fully aware of the U.S. military problems the people of Okinawa are dealing with and protesting. The protests in Okinawa energize the protests at Yokota Air Base, and the protests at Yokota Air Base energize the protests in Okinawa. Members of one group often show up at the protests of the other group.

The U.S. Military Burden on Okinawa:
By number, 70% of U.S. military bases in Japan are in Okinawa Prefecture. Okinawa Prefecture has only 0.6% of the total land area of Japan. And about 20% of the total land area of Okinawa Prefecture is under U.S. military control.

A look at the Okinawa Prefecture road maps nos. 19 through 42 (1/30,000 scale) shows a large part of the main island of Okinawa as U.S. military base (Okinawa-ken 2015). The distance from the center of the runway at the Futema base to the center of the runway at the Kadena base is no more than 10 km (about 6 miles). Both bases are huge.

Number of U.S. Military Personnel in Japan (2011):

JapanOkinawapercent in Okinawa
Army 2,4921,54762.1
Navy 18,2712,15011.8
Air Force11,6956,77257.9
* Umebayashi 2017, p. 87, citing a DoD report for 2011

The Futema Base & the New Base at Henoko:
Vote after vote, poll after poll, and a recent referendum all show the same thing: a sizable majority of the people of Okinawa want the Futema base out of Okinawa and oppose the building of the new base at Henoko (at Camp Shwab). Yet Prime Minister Abe and his government go on building the new base at Henoko and say this is the only solution to the problem of the Futema base and the only way to reduce the burden of the U.S. military on the people of Okinawa.

What Prime Miister Abe and his government are doing is the behavior of a dictatorship, not the behavior of a democratic government. Yet the U.S. and the U.S. military support the behavior of Prime Miinister Abe and his government.

Are Americans aware of the fact that, in Okinawa, their government and their military are effectively supporting dictatorship and opposing democracy?

Further, Heneko is only 40 km from Futema and on the same main island of Okinawa (Okinawa-ken 2015, 1/200,000 scale map). How can a move of such a short distance and in the same prefecture and on the same small island be considered "a lessening of the burden" on the Okinawans?

May 27, 2019

The Protesters:
Most people will imagin the protesters to be groups of local people gathering with placards and banners and making a lot of noise protesting the new base at Henoko and the Futema Base. But in Okinawa, the protesters include large crowds of ordinary residents outside, and at the official level a majority of municiple councils, a majority of mayors, the prefectural council, and the governor.

Would the U.S. government get away with building a base in a state when the majority of people from the residents to the governor opposed it?



  • Aoki Yoshitomo, V-22 Ospreys: The Complete Textbook (in Japanese), Shuwa Shisutemu, Tokyo, 2019.

  • Koshiba Yasuo, The Osprey and the U.S. Yokota Air Base (in Japanese), private publication by Koshiba Yasuo, 2018A.

  • Koshiba Yasuo, "U.S. Special Operations Forces and the Osprey: The Truth about Stationing at Yokota Air Base" (in Japanese), Heiwa Undo (Peace Movement), pp. 2-9, November 2018B.

  • Koshiba Yasuo, The Osprey and the U.S. Military's Special Operations Forces: A Look at the Truth behind Their Stationing at Yokota Air Base (in Japanese), private publication by Koshiba Yasuo, 2019.

  • Ogawa Ryo, photo & text in Aireview (in Japanese), April 2019, p. 78.

  • Okinawa-ken Doro Chizu (Okinawa Prefectural Atlas) (in Japanese), Kenbetsu Mappuru 47 (Prefecture [Road] Mapple 47), Shobunsha, Tokyo, 2015.

  • Umebayashi Hiromichi, U.S. Forces Japan: A Transfigured U.S.-Japan Security System (in Japanese), Iwanami Shinsho, Tokyo, Iwanami Shoten, 2017.

  • Yoshida Toshihiro, Yokota Air Space: A Wall Created by the U.S.-Japan Joint Committee (in Japanese), Kadokawa Shinsho, Tokyo, 2019.

* Aoki is a leading aviation journalist
* Koshiba is a leading military analyst
* Yoshida is a major journalist
* Ogawa is an aviation fan
* Umebayashi is a Ph.D. of engineering


My Experience with U.S. Military Bases in Japan 1957 to 2019

U.S. Air Force June 1956 - June 1965
(basic training, Army Language School for Russian language)
1957 Misawa Air Base June - December 1957
1957 - 1958 Wakkanai Air Station December 1957 - August 1958
(Kelly Air Force Base September - December 1958)
(Syracuse University January - September 1959 for Russian language)
(NSA September 1959 - January 1960)
1960 - 1965 Yokota Air Base March 1960 - June 1965 airborne reconnaissance against Soviet Union
  • 1960 - 1961 RB-50E & RB-50G
  • 1962 RC-130B & SAC RB-47H (the RB-47H missions were in the Sea of Okhotsk)
  • 1963 - 1965 RC-130B
  • Resident in Japan 1965 - 2019
    1965 - 1968 within hearing distance of Yokota Air Base August 1965 - July 1968
  • Japanese field archaeology (student) 1966 - 1968
  • (University of Hawaii)
    1970 - present within hearing distance of Yokota Air Base
    1970 - 1981 Japanese field archaeology (professional)
  • Hamura excavation of 2 large sites (director) 1977 - 1981
  • 1971 - 2004 teaching staff Sophia University
    Archaeology on U.S. Bases in Japan
    1981-1985 Misawa Air Base archaeology

    1985 - 1997 persona non grata at Misawa Air Base

    1997 Yokota Air Base, Tama Recreation Facility, Misawa Air Base
    1999 Yokota Air Base separate facilities
    2000 Misawa Air Base
    2002 Misawa Air Base
    2003 Sasebo Naval Base
    2004 Misawa Air Base & Okinawa U.S. military bases


    Added: June 6, 2019

    Who I Am

    For more details on who I am, see my Japanese Archaeology web site. (web site index)

    I added this link because I got criticism from someone who did not even know he was criticizing me. Ikegami (p. 85) was criticizing people who post ugly and racist things on the Internet but who hide behind fake names or no name. So I have added this link to make my name and background clear to readers. But I do not have my email address on this page because I do not want to get into a discussion with a mob of wakos on the Internet. This page, and the U.S. military in Japan hopefully, will benefit only from comments and criticisms by qualified people. And "Thank you" to those who have and are commenting and criticiziing.

    Ikegami Akira & Hando Kazutoshi, Living the Reiwa Era: Overcoming the Mistakes of the Heisei Era (in Japanese), Tokyo, Gentosha, 2019.

    • Heisei Era is 1989-2019; Reiwa Era is 2019 to the unknown future
    • Ikegami is a journalist and one of Japan's leading news analysist
    • Hando is a novelist and editor emphacizing history


    CV-22 Osprey flying over my neighborhood with the backend open (August 16, 2018, 16:49). Photo taken from my front door.

    CV-22 Osprey pair lifting off the runway with the backend open (July 18, 2018, 14:05).

    CV-22 Osprey with backend open and an M2 (12.7mm) machine gun showing (June 29, 2018, 11:55). One of two flying together going south toward downtown Hachioji City. They lifed off Yokota Air Base at 11:50. Only one of them had the machine gun showing.

    CV-22 Osprey pair right after lift-off (November 7, 2018, 15:43).

    CV-22 Osprey #0074 going past me with backend open and an M2 (12.7mm) machine gun visible. The other Osprey also had the machine gun showing.

    CV-22 Osprey close-up showing machine gun more clearly.