Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The Defense Ministry said Friday it has decided to accept MV-22 Osprey flights in Japan as the United States took steps for safe flights of the tilt-rotor transport aircraft following a recent fatal crash.
Japan and the United States are discussing letting Ospreys participate in the ongoing joint drills between the Ground Self-Defense Force and the U.S. military in Hokkaido.
On Sunday, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera requested the United States not to fly any Ospreys in Japan after an Osprey based in the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture crashed off Australia on Saturday.
Onodera also asked the U.S. side to refrain from using any Ospreys in the joint drills, which began on Thursday and are set to continue until Aug. 28. In line with the request, no Osprey participated in the exercises on Thursday.
The ministry said it now accepts the U.S. explanation that the Osprey is safe to fly as the U.S. military has taken reasonable safety measures.
The U.S. side says the accident occurred in a complex situation in which the aircraft was trying to land on a U.S. military ship, according to the ministry.
In addition, an initial U.S. military probe has confirmed the safety of Osprey flights, the ministry also said.
The ministry has judged that it is appropriate to request the U.S. military take the utmost care for safety when flying Ospreys.
In the accident, the Osprey aircraft hit the deck of the military ship during a landing attempt, killing three of its 26 crew, the ministry said