OTSU, SHIGA PREF. – U.S. Osprey aircraft will be used Oct. 16 during an 11-day joint exercise with the Ground Self-Defense Force at a training area in Takashima, Shiga Prefecture, Japanese officials said Tuesday.
A senior Defense Ministry official said holding the exercise in Shiga will help reduce the burden of the U.S. military presence in Okinawa Prefecture. The tilt-rotor MV-22 Ospreys are stationed at the Futenma base in Ginowan, Okinawa.
Another ministry official briefed Takashima Mayor Masaaki Fukui on Tuesday about the planned exercise in the Aibano Training Area. Takashima is located on the western shore of Lake Biwa.
Around 330 personnel are expected to participate in the exercise, which will run from Oct. 7 to Oct. 18, according to the GSDF Middle Army.
“It will be useful for both Japan and the United States to use MV-22s in light of the need to enhance joint operability with the U.S. Marines in tactical aspects,” Defense Ministry press secretary Masayoshi Tatsumi told a news conference.
“We also think it will help reduce the base-hosting burden of Okinawa,” he added.
In Okinawa, which hosts the bulk of U.S. military forces in Japan, opposition to the Osprey deployment remains strong amid safety concerns due to repeated crashes of the aircraft overseas.