Tokyo: Japan and the United States today held consultations on how to ensure the safe operation of the US Osprey military aircraft to be deployed at a base in Okinawa later this year.
The consultations under the framework of the Japan-US Joint Committee were held in Tokyo, amid lingering concerns over Washington`s plan to deploy MV-22 Ospreys to the Marines` Futenma Air Station, located in a crowded residential area in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture.
In a related development, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba met separately with Thomas Donilon, top national security adviser for US President Barack Obama, in the morning in Tokyo, telling him that the two countries must work closely to dispel safety concerns over the deployment, according to Japanese officials.
Donilon promised that the US government will cooperate as much as possible with Japan to ensure the safe operation of the transport aircraft, Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said at a news conference.
The deployment is to replace aging CH-46 helicopters at the Futenma base, while recent crashes abroad involving Ospreys have raised safety concerns.
During the consultations, Japanese foreign and defense officials are expected to request the United States to have the Ospreys fly over the sea as much as possible and fully disclose the outcome of the ongoing investigations into the two crashes involving the tilt-rotor aircraft in Morocco in April and Florida in June.
Earlier this week, 12 MV-22 Ospreys were unloaded at the US Marine Corps` Iwakuni Air Station in Yamaguchi Prefecture, western Japan.
Before the deployment at the Futenma base, the United States is hoping to start test flights of the Ospreys in late August at the earliest around Iwakuni.