The Japanese government has expressed concern as the US military continues flying its V-22 Osprey aircraft, disregarding Japan’s request to ground them for safety confirmation after a recent fatal crash. This event has sparked worry within Japan, a significant US ally.
Following a tragic incident where an Osprey fell into the sea in western Japan, resulting in one confirmed death and seven individuals still missing, Japan urged the suspension of all non-essential V-22 Osprey flights over its airspace.
Despite this plea, the Pentagon disclosed that Osprey flights were ongoing and clarified that no official request for grounding had been received, while investigations into the crash cause continue.
Addressing the ongoing flights, Hirokazu Matsuno, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, expressed unease at the US military’s continued operations despite their repeated requests and the absence of substantial explanations.
Furthermore, Yoko Kamikawa, Japan’s foreign minister, directly pressed the US ambassador in Japan, Rahm Emanuel, to verify the safety of Osprey flights before allowing further operations.
Criticism of the Osprey’s deployment in Japan has heightened, particularly from opponents of the US military presence in the southwest islands, citing its susceptibility to accidents.
Japan, striving for pacifism since World War II and reliant on US security, is sensitive to community concerns about military activities, notably due to the impact on local residents.
Robert Dujarric, a scholar at Tokyo’s Temple University, highlighted Japan’s sensitivity regarding military activities and community impact, emphasizing that lack of proper investigation might affect deployment decisions.
Despite these concerns, it is unlikely for this issue to escalate into a significant diplomatic conflict between the allies, as both countries have been strengthening their ties in response to China’s escalating military assertiveness in the region.