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Japan DM has no comment on Osprey aircraft deployment in Saga after fatal chopper crash triggers residents' concern
Last Updated: 2018-02-12 07:22 | Xinhua
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Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera on Sunday declined to comment on whether a fatal crash of a military helicopter in a residential area in Saga Prefecture would affect the planned deployment of the Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft to the prefecture in the country's southwest.

After visiting the local government office in Saga to apologize for the helicopter crash which killed both its crew members, triggering fears about the safety of the Self-Defense Force's (SDF) aircraft, Onodera sidestepped the issue of the planned deployment of the accident-prone Osprey to the prefecture.

"Under the current circumstances, I cannot comment on the matter," Onodera was quoted as telling a press briefing on the matter.

The defense minister's remarks came after he held talks with Saga Gov. Yoshinori Yamaguchi during which he reportedly promised to ensure that comprehensive measures would be taken to ensure the safety of SDF aircraft.

Onodera said that through ongoing investigations of the latest military-linked aircraft mishap, experts were trying to determine the cause of the fatal crash in Saga's Kanzaki City, which led to a house being burnt to the ground, with the incident sending ripples of fear and concern across Japan.

He added that pending the conclusion of the investigation and new protocols to ensure future mishaps are avoided, he would restart talks with local officials and citizens about the Osprey's deployment there.

At the outset of their meeting, Yamaguchi said that the "SDF need to make absolutely sure that they do not cause trouble for civilians."

Local people and officials in Saga, in light of the most recent accident, have voiced their concerns about the deployment of the controversial Ospreys to the Saga airport, which is jointly used by military and civilian aircraft.

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