Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima pleaded with the central government to stop the deployment of the second batch of MV-22 Ospreys that are due to be deployed to the US bases on the southern Japanese island, after arriving at the Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni near Hiroshima at the end of July for testing. The governor is planning to meet with Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera when Nakaima pays a visit to Tokyo on Tuesday. He earlier made the same appeal to Minister of Foreign Affairs Fumio Kishida when they met on Monday.
The 12 tilt-rotor hybrid Ospreys, which take off and land like helicopters but cruise like planes, are part of the global upgrade of the Marine Corps fleet and to replace the old Marine Corps dual-rotor helicopters. The planes can fly at a greater distance and can carry more cargo. US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the deployment of the Ospreys will strengthen the US Forces in the region and contribute to the peace and stability in the region.
However, there have been numerous questions and issues about the safety of the Ospreys because of some incidents during the early development stage of the planes, as well as recent global operations. Two US Marines were killed in an Osprey crash in Africa, while Air Force crew members suffered injuries during a crash in Florida. Independent safety investigations conducted by the US and Japan placed the blame on crew errors, not faulty machinery.
But Nakaima believes that the concerns they expressed about the aircraft’s safety have not been fully addressed by the US and Japan’s central government. They protested the first deployment of the Ospreys in October of last year, with demonstrations and overnight vigils, but all to no avail.
[ via Stripes ]