Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda told the Diet on Tuesday that he will not allow any flights of the U.S. military's latest transport aircraft in this country until its safety after two recent crashes has been confirmed.
Noda said that no flights of the Osprey would take place until investigations into the April and June crashes were completed and Japan was satisfied the aircraft are not a safety hazard. The U.S. government is scheduled to hand over the results of its investigations to the Japanese government in mid-August.
The deployment of the MV-22 Osprey to a U.S. base in Okinawa has become a political headache for Japan because of intense local opposition. The deployment of the aircraft has become a rallying point for base opponents.
The first 12 Ospreys headed for Okinawa arrived in Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture, on Monday.
Yamaguchi prefectural and Iwakuni government officials have expressed anger that the central government in Tokyo ignored the wishes of local residents in approving the deployment of the 12 aircraft. Okinawa says it cannot OK their deployment.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura told reporters Monday that "we will make utmost efforts in obtaining understanding" from local residents on the Osprey deployment by providing information on U.S. probes into the latest accidents.
Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto said Japan will send its own investigation team to Washington.© Japan Today/AP