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The U.S. Marine Corps said Wednesday it will continue flight operations of Osprey aircraft in Japan as it judged them to be safe despite Tokyo's request for a halt following a fatal crash off the coast of Australia last week, reported Japan Today.
After an initial examination of the accident, Lt. Gen. Lawrence Nicholson, the commanding general, said the unit concerned "determined that the Osprey is safe to fly and resumed operations."
He said in a statement that a 48-hour operational pause was observed by the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, to which the fallen aircraft was assigned.
"I would never put my aircrews or any local citizens in danger by flying an aircraft that I do not believe is safe and ready to fly," Nicholson said. "We did not take the decision to continue flight operations lightly."
The statement came after Japanese Defense Ministry sources said earlier in the day that the U.S. Marine Corps is continuing to fly Osprey in Japan.
Two Ospreys left U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa on Tuesday and returned there later in the day, according to the sources. The U.S. military flew the tilt-rotor aircraft for a second straight day, ignoring Tokyo's request made amid growing safety concerns.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga on Wednesday corrected his earlier explanation regarding the government's request to the United States over the Osprey flights.
The top government spokesman had said Tuesday that Japan made the demand with the proviso of "excluding (Osprey flights) required in terms of (the U.S. military's) operations." But in fact, the government did not set any conditions and wants a total suspension of Osprey operations in the country, Suga said.
An MV-22 Osprey crashed off the eastern coast of Australia on Saturday, leaving three U.S. Marines dead. The crashed plane was one of the Ospreys deployed at the Futenma base in Japan's southernmost island prefecture of Okinawa, which hosts the bulk of U.S. forces in the country.
Read more at japantoday.com
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