US to resume aircraft refuelling exercise in Japan

Tokyo, Jan 5 (IANS) Japan’s Defence Ministry has announced that the US military will resume from Friday aerial refuelling training for the contentious Osprey aircraft in Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture.

The announcement on Thursday came less than a month after one of the MV-22 Osprey aircraft deployed at the US Futenma base in the city of Ginowan made a water crash-landing off Okinawa on December 13, injuring two of the five crew members aboard, Xinhua news agency reported.

The incident, according to the US military, was caused by damage to the aircraft’s propeller in the process of aerial refuelling training by a plane.

Following the accident, Japan had asked the US military to suspend its Osprey flights in Okinawa until the cause of the accident was known.

The US military, however, resumed Osprey flights in Okinawa less than a week later, saying the accident was not caused by any problem with the aircraft itself, despite safety concerns and protests of the local people.

Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga had called the Japanese government’s approval of the flights resumption “outrageous,” and called for the removal of all the contentious tilt-rotor aircraft from the island prefecture.