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11:20 AM, August 15, 2017
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US Marine Corps Osprey aircraft: US DOD Photo

Up to six MV-22 Ospreys with the US Marine Corps will join a US-Japan military exercise from Friday, Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters in Tokyo Tuesday settling doubts about the fitness of the aircraft which had crashed off Australia last week.

"Japan also believes there is important significance in the Osprey's participation in the exercise. We will continue to ask the U.S. side to give as much consideration as possible to safe flight operations," Onodera said as reported by Kyodo News.

The U.S. Marine Corps and Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force troops began the exercise last Thursday as originally planned, while participation of the Ospreys had been shelved due to the crash on Aug. 5 amid heightened local concerns.

Meanwhile a US Marine Corps statement said more than 2,000 U.S. Marines and 1,500 Japan Self-Defense Force troops are practicing Indo-Asia-Pacific regional security during the recently started first iteration of exercise Northern Viper 2017 which tests how Japanese forces and the U.S. Marine Corps operate together during a variety of missions involving peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief operations.

The Ospreys are expected to fly from the U.S. military's Misawa Air Base in Aomori Prefecture to two maneuver areas in nearby Hokkaido where the exercise is conducted.

The aircraft all belong to U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Japan's southern island prefecture of Okinawa where they are particularly unpopular in Okinawa due to their noise and record of accidents.

In the Hokkaido US-Japan exercise, the Ospreys will engage in battle-field support activities including transportation of military personnel, according to Onodera.

The exercise will continue through Aug.

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