Japan's defense minister says he wants to deploy on a temporary basis the US military's Osprey transport aircraft to a Self-Defense Force base in Kisarazu City, near Tokyo, in March of next year at the earliest.
The Defense Ministry plans to deploy a total of 17 Ospreys for use by the Ground Self-Defense Force by 2021.
But a plan to deploy the first five Ospreys last year at an airport in Saga Prefecture, southwestern Japan, was postponed due to stalled negotiations with local fishermen, who own part of the land for the airport.
Takeshi Iwaya told reporters on Friday that the Kisarazu base is big enough to hold 17 Ospreys, and that the facilities there can be used for the deployment.
He said he wants to start the temporary deployment after obtaining approval from Kisarazu City.
The defense minister said the personnel who will operate the Ospreys are undergoing training programs in the United States and that he will explain this to the city and its residents to ease their concerns.
Kisarazu Mayor Yoshikuni Watanabe told reporters that he has not yet received a satisfactory explanation about the aircraft's safety and possible influence on the lives of the people of the city.
He also said he wants to know the duration of the temporary deployment, as this would be important in gaining the support of the residents.