Osprey aerial-refueling drills resume after crash on Okinawa
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The Marine Corps has resumed MV-22 Osprey aerial-refueling drills on Okinawa less than a month after one of the tilt-rotor aircraft crashed off Camp Schwab.
The decision, announced this week by U.S. Forces Japan, has drawn a sharp rebuke from local officials on the small island prefecture, though Japan’s Ministry of Defense said USFJ is doing enough to ensure locals’ safety.
“The Japanese government keeps saying it will stay close to the feelings of the Okinawan people, but in reality it always gives first priority to the demands of U.S. military,” Gov. Takeshi Onaga, who won election on an anti-base platform, told a news conference Thursday night. “I will urge the government to establish a system that adequately reflects the voices of Okinawa when it looks into the resumption of the drills, instead of blindly accepting the assessment of the military. I will continue to strongly urge cancellation of deployment of the Ospreys to Okinawa.”
Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine agreed, calling restarting the drills unacceptable. Ginowan Mayor Atsuhi Sakima said that while he understands the U.S. military’s explanation for the Dec. 13 crash — a propeller reportedly cut a thick refueling hose on an Air Force C-130 tanker — he had concerns about resuming the drills before completing the final investigation.
“Fears of residents about the safety of the Ospreys are not dispelled yet,” said Sakima, whose city hosts Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, where the aircraft are based.
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