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Thousands protest in Japan against Osprey aircraft

  • People rally against a planned deployment of Osprey aircraft in Ginowan, on the southern island of Okinawa, Japan, Sept. 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Kyodo News)

TOKYO: Thousands of people have rallied against U.S. plans to deploy Osprey aircraft on a southern Japanese island amid renewed safety concerns.

The protesters gathered Sunday at a seaside park on Okinawa to demand that the plan to deploy 12 MV-22 Osprey hybrid aircraft on the island be scrapped, saying they are unsafe. The U.S. plans to deploy the Osprey, which takes off like a helicopter and flies like an airplane, to replace older CH-46 helicopters that are already there.

Safety concerns boiled over after Osprey crashes in Morocco and Florida earlier this year. An incident in North Carolina last week that officials called a "precautionary landing" aggravated the sentiment.

The Osprey issue has also reignited longstanding anger over the heavy presence of American troops on Okinawa.

 
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