Policy chief of the governing Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), Seiji Maehara, on Wednesday reiterated his call to the government to hold talks with the United States on reviewing the timetable for deployment of the Osprey military aircraft in the country.
Addressing a meeting in Nagoya, he said he was not fully opposed to the planned deployment of the tilt-rotor aircraft in Okinawa prefecture, but stressed that its safety must be confirmed before starting test flights in the Yamaguchi prefecture.
Maehara said Yamaguchi and Okinawa residents would be uneasy unless the U.S. clarified the causes of recent accidents involving the Osprey, and ensured that proper training on the aircraft was carried out, Japanese media reported.
A cautious approach is all the more important because Japan-U.S. relations are so vital, he said and wanted officials from both sides to make an effort to remove Japanese people's anxiety over the aircraft's safety, rather than just proceeding according to a set schedule.
Many residents of the two islands are opposed to Osprey test flights and deployment in the context of a series of accidents involving the Bell Boeing- made aircraft.
A ship carrying MV22 Ospreys is expected to arrive at the U.S. Marine Corps' Iwakuni Air Station in Yamaguchi as early as next week.
by RTT Staff Writer
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