Despite persistent protests in Japan, Washington has notified Tokyo that 12 MV-22 Osprey transport aircraft will arrive at the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Yamaguchi Prefecture on July 23, sources said.
Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto is considering taking a test ride on the aircraft at the military base to emphasize their safety before their planned deployment to the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, in September. The aircraft will enter full operations there in early October.
The 12 Osprey aircraft are currently being shipped on a private transport vessel.
Protesters, especially in Okinawa Prefecture, have demanded that Japan refuse entry of the Osprey aircraft due to their spotty safety record.
Washington plans to notify Tokyo by the end of August of the results of an investigation into recent Osprey crashes. A team of Japanese experts from the Defense Ministry, the transport ministry and other organizations will then visit the United States to confirm the safety of the aircraft.
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda agreed to that timetable when he met Morimoto and Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba on July 17.
Morimoto has asked Washington if he can take a ride on an Osprey aircraft when he visits the United States in early August, but the responses so far have been unfavorable, the sources said.
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