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Kisarazu Mayor Yoshikuni Watanabe voiced approval Wednesday for the proposed provisional deployment of the Ground Self-Defense Force’s Osprey tilt-rotor transport aircraft to the Chiba Prefecture city.

During a meeting at the Defense Ministry in Tokyo, Defense Minister Taro Kono told Watanabe that his ministry will try to limit the Osprey deployment to five years.

In reply, the mayor said that the city will “cooperate” with the deployment.

The Defense Ministry plans to deploy 17 Ospreys to Saga Airport in Saga Prefecture. But the plan has faced opposition from a local fishery cooperative.

“We’ll move the Ospreys to Saga eventually,” Kono said, adding that Kisarazu is “a temporary place” to host the aircraft.

How long the Ospreys will be deployed there has been a major source of concern for the city.

As conditions for accepting the temporary Osprey deployment, Watanabe asked Kono to take thorough measures to ensure safe aircraft operations, establish a relevant committee comprising the parties concerned, including the ministry and the Kisarazu Municipal Government, and report progress in the work to prepare facilities needed to accept the Ospreys at Saga Airport.

Kono promised to respond to the requests in writing.

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