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SECURITY > Okinawa

U.S. plans to resume Osprey flights in Okinawa this week

Saturday’s Asahi, Mainichi, and Yomiuri and Sunday’s Nikkei wrote that the USFJ has notified the Japanese government of a plan for an MV-22 Osprey to fly from the Ie Jima Auxiliary Airfield to MCAS Futenma this week for inspection and maintenance. Meanwhile, Sunday’s Yomiuri wrote that the U.S. military has conveyed to the Japanese government its intention to lift its suspension of Osprey operations on Dec. 19 and that Tokyo is making all-out efforts to dispel local concern over the safety of the aircraft, since Okinawans will react sharply if Osprey operations are resumed within a week of the incident on Dec. 13. According to the paper, in response to the U.S. military’s desire to resume Osprey flights on Dec. 16, SDF Joint Staff Chief Kawano stressed to USFJ Commander Martinez the need for a thorough investigation and full explanation of the cause of the accident out of concern that Okinawa’s negative sentiment toward the Osprey would grow further if Osprey flights were resumed only three days after the incident. The paper speculated that the U.S. military is seeking the early resumption of Osprey operations because the aircraft plays a key role in transporting Marines in the Asia-Pacific region, noting that the aircraft has played important roles in disaster relief in Kumamoto and elsewhere. The paper added that the Osprey is indispensable for the U.S. military’s operations and that the U.S. military has trouble comprehending why the Osprey is treated differently from other military aircraft.

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