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Iwakuni may see MV-22 Osprey before Okinawa

Date Posted: 2012-06-15

The Marines’ MV-22 Osprey is supposed to come to Okinawa starting this summer, but discussions are now under way between the U.S. and Japan to deploy the controversial aircraft to Iwakuni in Yamaguchi Prefecture before bringing them to Okinawa.

There are 12 tilt-rotor aircraft slated to be assigned to Okinawa’s Futenma Marine Corps Air Station, but the Japanese Defense Ministry has concerns about the safety of the plane, which can take off and land vertically. Two U.S. Marines were killed in April when an MV-22 Osprey on deployment to Morocco crashed. The official report to the Japanese Defense Ministry explains there were no mechanical flaws in the Osprey, but did not specify the actual cause of the accident.

The current proposal is to test the Osprey at Iwakuni before deploying it to Futenma. That order came from Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, according to NTV. Despite the government’s plan, Yamaguchi Governor Sekinari Nii isn’t so sure he’ll accept the aircraft. He’s said it could be the end of August before he responds to a request to accept the temporary deployment, shortly before his term ends August 21st.

The governor’s announcement came after the central government asked him to permit a temporary deployment. Parliamentary Vice Defense Minister Hideo Jinpu also made a request ot Iwakuni Mayor Yoshihiko Fukuda to accept the Osprey for 10~14 days. The mayor says he sees a need for further explanations about the aircraft’s safety, and also what the environmental impact would be.

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