Japan has demanded that the US ground its V-22 Osprey aircraft deployed in Japan after one of the Marine Corps planes crashed off Australia.
The crashed Osprey was among the tilt-rotor aircraft deployed at U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Japan's southern island prefecture of Okinawa, where local residents have expressed concern about the safety of the aircraft that have a history of fatal accidents, Kyodo news agency reported.
Japan plans to discuss with the US whether it would be appropriate for Ospreys to take part in joint training between the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force and the U.S. Marines in Japan's island of Hokkaido, planned to be held from Thursday, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters Sunday as reported by Kyodo news agency.
Onodera said his country would demand a “solid explanation" about the accident. He was speaking with reporters after an Osprey crashed off the coast of Shoalwater Bay near Rockhampton in Queensland state Saturday, leaving three U.S. Marines missing while 43 others were rescued.
Onodera said Japan urged Washington to disclose information about the accident, investigate what caused it and take measures to prevent such an accident from happening again.
The Osprey aircraft, which can take off and land like helicopters but cruise like fixed-wing airplanes, have one of the worst safety records among military transport aircraft in the world. Built by Bell-Boeing, the unique planes are intended to take marines or special forces quickly to the scene of action. They can land and take off from aircraft carriers.
In December last year, a U.S. Marine MV-22 Osprey crash-landed in waters off the main island of Okinawa. In May 2015, a U.S. Osprey made a hard-landing in Hawaii, resulting in the deaths of two Marines.