Okinawa gov. calls for cancellation of new Osprey deployment plan

Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima called on the central government on Monday to reconsider the planned deployment of 12 more MV-22 Osprey combat-troop carriers at a U.S. Marine Corps base in Japan's southwestern island prefecture, including its cancellation, citing continuing local concern about the aircraft's safety.

In a meeting in Tokyo, the governor handed Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida a list of written requests, including redistributing the existing 12 Ospreys at the Futenma Air Station on Okinawa's main island to multiple bases in the country.

Kishida replied that he will do his utmost about the requests, with Nakaima pressing for an answer to the requests.

"The anxieties felt by the people of Okinawa Prefecture about the Ospreys have not been addressed at all," the governor told reporters after the meeting, criticizing the planned deployment of 12 more tilt-rotor aircraft at the Futenma base, which sits within the densely populated city.

Nakaima plans to meet with other senior officials of the central government on Tuesday, including Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga and Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera.

The Defense Ministry said last week that a second batch of the tilt-rotor aircraft will be shipped to a Marine base in Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture, in late July, for eventual deployment at Futenma expected as soon as early August.

A dozen Ospreys have been deployed at the Okinawa base since last October despite concern among Okinawa people about their safety performance due to a series of accidents abroad involving versions of the Osprey.

Using its tilt-rotor wings, the Marine transport aircraft can take off and land like a helicopter, and cruise like a fixed-wing airplane.