• Kyodo

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The commanding general of the U.S. Marines in Okinawa, Lt. Gen. John Wissler, told Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima in a meeting Tuesday that MV-22 Osprey aircraft stationed at the Futenma air station could be dispatched to the disputed Senkaku Islands if needed.

“That aircraft has the ability to reach the Senkakus, should we need to support any sort of Japan-U.S. security treaty,” Wissler said during the meeting open to the media.

Wissler’s comment is thought to reflect the recent intensification of Chinese activities in the East China Sea, including intrusions by China Coast Guard vessels into the waters around the Japanese-controlled islets claimed by China.

Nakaima reiterated his opposition to stationing Ospreys at Futenma, saying “citizens’ concerns have not been cleared up,” but did not respond directly to Wissler’s proposal that the Ospreys could be dispatched to the Senkakus.

As well as having a longer range than the CH-46 helicopters they are replacing, Wissler said the tilt-rotor Ospreys can quickly reach high altitudes due to their speed and create less noise pollution than other aircraft.

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