Japanese Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto's ride on the U.S. Osprey military aircraft has drawn fire from the Governor of a prefecture where a fleet of the controversial aircraft is planned to be deployed.
Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima said on Friday that concern about the safety of the aircraft was not going to ease just because Japan's Defense Minister had a flight on board the aircraft built by Bell-Boeing for the Pentagon.
Nakaima said he did not understand the purpose of Morimoto boarding the aircraft as he was not even a test pilot. His action has no relevance to the safety issues being raised about deploying the aircraft in the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station in Okinawa, he added.
Nakaima said he was yet to decide whether to join Sunday's protest rally against the Osprey deployment, but added that the rally is a very important forum where the people of Okinawa can freely express their views. Rally organizers claim that at least 50,000 people will take part in the protest.
A dozen of the tilt-rotor aircraft had already arrived in Japan's Yamaguchi prefecture, where also a U.S. air station is located, despite local protests. The Marine Corps plan to deploy the Osprey in Okinawa in October after training flights in Yamaguchi.
People of the two islands are concerned about the safety of the aircraft following two recent crashes, one in Morocco and the other in the U.S. State of Florida. The Morocco crash has claimed the lives of two airmen.
by RTT Staff Writer
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