Japanese government accepts a U.S. report on the crash in Morocco as a declaration of a clean bill of health and declares Osprey aircraft safe

June 9, 2012 Sakae Toiyama of Ryukyu Shimpo

The U.S. Government has concluded that no mechanical problems were found to be involved in the MV-22 Osprey vertical take-off and landing transport aircraft crash in Morocco in April. Receiving the report from the United States government, a senior official of the Ministry of Defense commented, “The safety of the aircraft has been confirmed.” So the Japanese government has issued a declaration on the safety of the aircraft before the final report has actually been submitted to Tokyo by the U.S. government. It is unlikely that an independent investigation will be carried out on the crash. On this issue, the government goes no indication of any desire to edge closer to the Okinawan people, who are extremely concerned about this dangerous aircraft coming to the base at Futenma.

A senior official of the Ministry of Defense indicated his confidence in the safety of the aircraft, saying, “The accident analysis report by the U.S. government covers the safety issue that the Okinawa Prefectural Government has been concerned about. This will relieve the concern of local people because the crash was not due to mechanical failure.” Another senior official commented, “Human error caused the crash, and it was made clear that the aircraft had no structural defects. The Japanese government is not in a position to comment to the United States on the Osprey deployment plan to the base at Futenma.” The Japanese government will not request that the U.S. government delay its schedule. On March 8, in a press conference, Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said, “We will press ahead with the deployment plan without making a fuss about it.”

The Japanese government received the summary of the crash investigation report from the United States government in the morning of June 7, but that was announced at a press conference at 9:30am the next day, June 8 with the press corps only being informed of the timing of the news conference just ninety minutes beforehand. Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto mentioned the possible deployment of the Osprey to the Futenma base without waiting for the final report of the crash investigation. It is speculated that the local people’s growing opposition to the deployment of the Osprey made the government release the outline of the investigation report and that the timing of this was arranged with the United States.

At the same time, the Okinawa Prefectural Government follows these developments calmly. That same day, officials of the Okinawa Defense Bureau visited the Okinawa Government Office and the Ginowan Municipal Office, and delivered the one piece of written material that was announced to the press corps. In this no further information was given beyond what had been in the press releases. A senior official of the Okinawa Prefectural Government said, “Only one sheet paper was delivered to our office. We have not received the explanation [about the crash investigation].” He voiced his dissatisfaction with the central government, saying, “We want the government to provide more detail and accurate information. There might have been a problem in a system that led to human error occurring. We need further explanation.”

The U.S. government has conveyed to Tokyo only the conclusion of the crash investigation that no mechanical problems have been found, and has not actually released the official investigation report. However, the Ministry of Defense has obediently accepted this and issued a declaration of safety for the aircraft. The only thing that is conspicuous here is the determination to give priority to U.S. military operations.

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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