NAHA, Japan, Dec. 7, Kyodo — A U.S. Marine Corps’ MV-22 Osprey aircraft deployed in Okinawa Prefecture reportedly flew over residential areas with an object suspended below by a cable, prompting Japanese officials to protest over safety concerns, a local defense bureau said Wednesday.
The tilt-rotor transport aircraft, seen by many in Japan’s southern island prefecture as accident-prone, was confirmed as having flown above houses in the village of Ginoza around 5 p.m. Tuesday with an unidentified cylindrical object hanging from its belly, it said.
Koichiro Nakajima, director-general of the Defense Ministry’s Okinawa Defense Bureau, lodged a protest with the U.S. forces Tuesday evening, saying such training activities cannot be tolerated.
The bureau also apologized for distress caused with residents in the village and wider prefecture.
“It flew over repeatedly, until late evening. I feel only fear,” said a woman who saw the Osprey fly above her home.
Osprey aircraft, which take off and land like a helicopter but cruise like a plane, have been a matter of concern in Japan for some time. The U.S. military has deployed dozens of the aircraft to the Marine’s Air Station Futenma in a densely populated area in the prefecture.
Okinawa, a host to the bulk of U.S. military facilities in Japan, seeks to relocate the base outside the prefecture.