Japan and the United States will conduct joint drills involving the MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft in two western prefectures next month, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said Friday.
In light of complaints about the high concentration of U.S. military bases in Okinawa, Onodera will ask communities in Shiga and Kochi prefectures for permission to conduct the drills.
These will be the first drills involving the Osprey outside Okinawa, where nearly two dozen are deployed at U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.
The minister will also visit Okinawa on Saturday to explain the plan in person to Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima.
In Shiga, which borders Kyoto, personnel from the Ground Self-Defense Force and U.S. Marines will conduct regular training in mid-October involving rappelling from Ospreys to the ground.
In Kochi, military personnel from both countries will hold disaster drills in late October based on a hypothetical scenario involving a powerful earthquake in the Nankai Trough off central and western Japan. The drill will be designed to examine how well the Osprey can be used during natural disasters.