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Osprey flights over Okinawa to resume Monday at earliest

A U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey aircraft. (Mainichi)

Flights of the U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey aircraft are to resume as early as Dec. 19, it has been learned from a government source.

Ospreys will fly from Ie Jima Auxiliary Airfield in the village of Ie, Okinawa Prefecture, to Futenma Air Base in the city of Ginowan, also in Okinawa.

The U.S. military had halted Osprey flights after a request from the Japanese government following a crash-landing on the night of Dec. 13 along the coast of the city of Nago. The resumption of flights before even a week will have passed is sure to arouse protest in Okinawa.

According to an insider source, the flight to Futenma Air Base appears to be for a maintenance inspection. The U.S. military had originally planned for the flight to take place on Dec. 16, but it was delayed after Japanese officials said that Okinawans would not accept a resumption of flights without a thorough explanation about how safety has been secured, the source says.

A senior official of the Okinawan Prefectural Government commented angrily, "We haven't heard anything about this. What is the U.S. military thinking?"

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