On Tuesday, Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima had a meeting with Koichiro Genba, Japan’s Foreign Minister, and Satoshi Morimoto, the Defense Minister, to ask them to call off the U.S. Military’s deployment of twenty-four MV-22 Osprey aircrafts to the marine’s Futenma base. Nakaima says that he cannot allow the U.S. government to deploy the Osprey until its safety has been proven to the people of Japan. This call for protection comes just over a week after a the city of Iwakuni, in Yamaguchi Prefecture, also refused to allow the aircrafts to be tested there before deployment to Okinawa.
The concern over safety stems from an April accident in Morocco where an Osprey aircraft crashed and two marines died. The U.S. has repeatedly tried to explain that the cause was pilot error, and not a mechanical failure. However, there was another Osprey crash in the U.S. state of Florida last week. Genba assured Nakaima that he had contacted the U.S. Military and requested further details on both of the accidents as soon as possible.
The new aircrafts are meant to replace the aging helicopters still in use in Okinawa. They were originally meant to be assembled and tested in Yamaguchi Prefecture in July, and then be sent to the airbase in Okinawa. Both Yamaguchi Governor Sekinari Nii, and Iwakuni Mayor Yoshihiko Fukuda have refused the Ospreys to be used and put their residents in danger. The aircraft is meant for transport and features rotating propellers on airplane-like wings, which allows it to take off and land vertically, and also fly faster than a traditional helicopter.