Noda says Japan will have to OK Osprey deployment
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said Monday that Japan will have to accept the deployment of 24 U.S. MV-22 Osprey aircraft to the Futenma air base in August.
Speaking on a TV program, Noda said the planned deployment is part of the U.S. government’s defense policy which the Japanese government has no say in, NHK reported.
The U.S. military plans to replace its aging CH-46s with the Osprey after bringing them to Iwakuni in Yamaguchi Prefecture for assembly and testing.
The $70 million Osprey is the U.S. military’s latest-generation transport aircraft. It combines airplane-like wings with rotors that allow it to take off and land like a helicopter. Its engines roll forward in flight, allowing it to fly faster than a standard helicopter.
However, the planned deployment has generated fierce opposition in both Iwakuni and Okinawa over the aircraft’s safety following two crashes this year.
Noda said Japan will do everything it can to ensure the safety of the aircraft. Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto will visit the U.S. later this month to discuss the issue with his counterpart.