The Daily Manila Shimbun


Osprey to join Japan-US drills from Fri.

August 16, 2017

TOKYO- The US Marine Corps' MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft in Okinawa Prefecture, southernmost Japan, will take part in the ongoing Japan-US joint exercises in Hokkaido, Japan's Defense Ministry said Tuesday.

The Osprey participation was decided after coordination between Japan and the United States, following a fatal crash of one of the Ospreys deployed at the Marine Corps' Futenma air station in Okinawa. The accident happened off the east coast of Australia on Aug. 5.

Up to six Ospreys will join the drills between the US military and Japan's Self-Defense Forces that started last Thursday in the northernmost Japan prefecture of Hokkaido, according to the ministry. The drills will last until Aug. 28.

The Japanese and US governments have agreed to promote Osprey-related drills outside Okinawa to help reduce the prefecture's heavy base-hosting burden. The latest decision is part of the agreement, the ministry said.

"The United States sees the Osprey as key aircraft for security in Japan and East Asia," Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters in Tokyo. "The aircraft is also important for Japan," he added.

Japan will urge the United States to put safety first and minimize any negative impacts on local residents during the drills, Onodera said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Onodera met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to report the decision on Ospreys' participation in the drills. Abe instructed Onodera to ensure that the exercises will be carried out safely.

After the crash, the Japanese government requested the US side to refrain from Osprey flights.Jiji Press