Photo/Illutration The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force’s Camp Kisarazu in Chiba Prefecture (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Kisarazu Mayor Yoshikuni Watanabe said Dec. 25 he will accept a 5-year temporary Osprey deployment to the Ground Self-Defense Force’s Camp Kisarazu in the Chiba Prefecture city, despite residents' concerns over the transport aircraft's safety record.

Watanabe informed Defense Minister Taro Kono during a meeting at the Defense Ministry in Tokyo he would formally approve the ministry's plan to deploy the aircraft.

The ministry's original plan to deploy the GSDF Ospreys to Saga Airport in Saga Prefecture was bogged down as landowners refused to allow the ministry to build new facilities for the aircraft on their plots.

In May, the ministry asked Watanabe to accept the temporary deployment to Camp Kisarazu as a stopgap.

But Kisarazu residents also balked at the plan, citing the Ospreys' safety record and arguing that accepting a temporary stay could open the door to their permanent deployment in the prefecture.

In response, Kisarazu's city government repeatedly demanded that the ministry clarify the deployment period.

Kisarazu's city assembly adopted a statement this month stipulating that the deployment should be limited to five years and submitted it to the ministry.

Kono said the ministry agreed to the city's request and will go to great lengths to accommodate its concerns.

The defense minister also said he would accept the city government's requests to carry out a safety assessment of the deployment and to set up a meeting to discuss local residents' concerns.