Okinawa governor asks Gemba, Morimoto to cancel Osprey deployment
Okinawa Gov Hirokazu Nakaima on Tuesday met with Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba and Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto in Tokyo and asked the government to cancel the proposed deployment of 24 U.S. MV-22 Osprey aircraft at the U.S. Marine Corps base at Futenma in Ginowan.
Nakaima said he cannot agree to the Osprey’s deployment until its safety has been publicly proven, TBS reported. He said that the government’s prime responsibility is to protect the lives of its people.
An Osprey aircraft crashed in Morocco in April and another one crashed in Florida last week. Gemba told Nakaima that Tokyo has asked the U.S. to provide full details on the cause of both crashes as soon as possible, TBS reported.
The U.S. military plans to replace aging CH-46s with the Osprey after bringing them to Iwakuni in Yamaguchi Prefecture for assembly and testing in July. However, the Yamaguchi deployment has been put on hold, pending the results of the Florida crash investigation.
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.