Japan-U.S. drill involving Ospreys to be held in Kochi on Oct. 25

A joint exercise by Japanese and U.S. forces involving MV-22 Osprey aircraft from the U.S. Marine Corps will be held in western Japan's Kochi Prefecture on Oct. 25, Japanese officials said Monday, as part of Japan-U.S. efforts to ease the burden of U.S. military bases on Okinawa Prefecture.

Two Ospreys will join the drill based on the scenario of a massive earthquake centered on the Nankai Trough off central and western Japan and subsequent tsunami, they said.

The tilt-rotor aircraft will be mobilized for search and rescue operations at sea as well as transportation of Japanese Self-Defense Forces and relief goods to affected areas.

During the drill, the Ospreys will land at a Ground Self-Defense Force camp and an Air Self-Defense Force base in Kochi as well as on a Maritime Self-Defense Force escort ship anchored off the prefecture.

About 4,700 SDF members are scheduled to participate in a separate drill to simulate the response to a Nankai Trough quake between Oct. 25 and 27, which will cover Kochi and five other prefectures in central and western Japan.

Another joint Japan-U.S. drill involving Osprey aircraft will be held in Shiga Prefecture on Oct. 16 to help reduce the burden of the U.S. military presence on Okinawa.

In Okinawa, which hosts the bulk of U.S. military forces in Japan, opposition to the deployment of the Osprey remains strong because of its history of crashes overseas, including a fatal accident.