MARINE CORPS AIR STATION FUTENMA — Members of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan visited Marine Corps Air Station Futenma Sept. 9 to discuss the role of the air station and the MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft.
Toshihisa Takata, the ambassador in charge of Okinawan Affairs with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, also joined the LDP members during the visit.
The LDP is one of the political parties of Japan and the ruling party of the National Diet of Japan.
The visit began with a command brief given by Lt. Col. Sean P. Patak to discuss the air station’s capabilities in support of 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force and Marine Corps Installations Pacific.
“It is important that the 1st MAW’s rotary and tiltrotor assets are colocated with the ground-based components of the MEF in order to provide adequate response time for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions,” said Patak, the MCAS executive officer. “This in addition to supporting real-world contingencies and operations, multinational exercises, and periodic training and exercises.”
The LDP members also inquired about the Marines’ living conditions on base and base community relations programs to bring greater unity between the local community and the Marines stationed on Okinawa.
“After visiting, we can see for ourselves how sincere and caring the Marines on Futenma are with their neighbors on Okinawa,” said Toshihiro Nikai, an LDP member and former minister of Economy, Trade and Industry. “We hope to continue our good relationship with the U.S. forces.”
During the visit, the delegation also observed a static display of the Osprey. The members were encouraged to ask questions and gain familiarity with the tiltrotor aircraft and learn more about the Osprey’s capabilities; including speed, range and the pilots’ training.
“It’s one thing to read about something like the Osprey, but seeing it with your own eyes is best way to learn,” said LDP member Arata Takebe.
Japan and the U.S. are scheduled to conduct joint military exercises with the Osprey in Shiga and Kochi prefectures in October. It will mark the first time the partner nations conduct joint training with the Osprey.
“By learning more about the Osprey and its pilots, I will be better able to explain its safety to people,” said Toshitaka Ooka, an LDP member and representative for Shiga prefecture. “If this training is successful, we look forward to having the Marines train (in Shiga again) next year.”