Japan and the United States have confirmed that they are finalizing plans to relocate the training for the MV-22 Osprey aircraft outside of the Okinawa Prefecture. This has been one of the long-standing issues as officials and residents have been protesting the heavy burden placed on the prefecture with the presence of the US Armed Forces as well as the dangers of the aircraft, which has a faulty safety record.
Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera and US Marine Corps commandant General James Amos confirmed on Tuesday that plans are underway for the relocation. Onodera asked for the Marines’ cooperation in finalizing this plan. One of the things being proposed by the Ministry is for the US military to use the training facilities for the Osprey that will be built by the Self-Defense Forces starting fiscal year 2015. Officials say that the SDF and the US forces can conduct joint drills in the new facility to further strengthen cooperation between their military efforts. The plan is to hold two exercises involving the Ospreys by end of this fiscal year until March next year, according to the Defense Ministry.
Residents and Okinawa officials alike have long expressed concern about the deployment of the MV-22 Ospreys at the Futenma Air Station in the southernmost part of the prefecture. This is in part due to the multiple crashes abroad involving the tilt-rotor combat troop carriers as well as the continued heavy presence of the US forces in Okinawa, the most compared to any other place in Japan.
[ via Global Post ]