Japan's new Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto has urged the Pentagon to quickly provide a final report on the recent crash of a U.S. Marine MV-22 Osprey aircraft in Morocco.
The request comes ahead of the planned deployment of 24 such aircraft to the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station in Japan's Okinawa prefecture. The V-22 Osprey is a tiltrotor vertical/short takeoff and landing (VSTOL) aircraft jointly developed by U.S. companies Bell Helicopter and Boeing for multi-service combat operational requirements.
Morimoto made the request during his first talks with U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta through teleconference on Wednesday since assuming his post earlier this month.
Morimoto said residents of Okinawa were opposed to deployment of the aircraft in their island. He told Panetta that he wanted the final report on the April crash compiled quickly, so he could provide the locals with a detailed explanation.
Panetta said he could understand the subtle situation in Okinawa, Japanese media reported on Wednesday.
Morimoto also reiterated the government position that relocating the functions of the Futenma air base to the Henoko district in Nago city was the only solution to the base problem. While acknowledging that it will not be easy, he expressed resolve to do his utmost to realize the plan.
Panetta responded by saying that Japan's cooperation was indispensable in realigning U.S. forces in the Asia-Pacific region, the report said.
by RTT Staff Writer
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