MANILA – Foreign Minister Taro Kono asked U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Monday to ensure that the U.S. Marine Corps will safely fly its Ospreys in Japan after one of the controversial tilt-rotor transports crashed off Australia over the weekend.
Kono asked the United States to fully investigate the crash, provide Japan with information and prevent further Osprey-related incidents, a Foreign Ministry official said after their brief meeting on the fringes of regional ministerial gatherings in Manila.
The meeting came a day after Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said Tokyo had asked Washington to refrain from flying the MV-22 Osprey in Japan. The dual-rotor MV-22, known for its checkered safety record, takes off and lands like a helicopter but can cruise like an airplane.
The Osprey that crashed off the coast of Queensland state on Saturday left three U.S. Marines missing and was based in Okinawa Prefecture.
In their first meeting since Kono took up his new post in last week’s Cabinet reshuffle, he and Tillerson agreed to hold the next round of four-way security talks between their foreign and defense ministers “at an early date,” according to the Japanese official.
Sources familiar with Japan-U.S. relations said earlier that the two governments were arranging to hold the so-called two-plus-two security meeting around Aug. 17 in Washington.
It will be the first such meeting since U.S. President Donald Trump took office in January.
In Manila, Kono and Tillerson agreed to strengthen the bilateral alliance, which they affirmed as the cornerstone of peace and the stability in the Asia-Pacific region and the world, according to the official.
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