An Air Force Special Operations Command CV-22B Osprey parks at Yokota Air Base, Japan in 2018.

An Air Force Special Operations Command CV-22B Osprey parks at Yokota Air Base, Japan in 2018. (Stars and Stripes)

TOKYO — Osprey aircraft across Japan are undergoing safety inspections and preventative maintenance in response to a deadly crash in Japan last week, according to the country’s Ministry of Defense.

Eight were aboard a CV-22B during a training mission on Nov. 29 when it went down off Yakushima, an island in Kagoshima prefecture, according to Air Force Special Operations Command. The aircraft is assigned to the 353rd Special Operations Wing at Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo.

The Air Force has not been flying its tiltrotors, Japanese Defense Minister Minoru Kihara told reporters Tuesday, adding that the United States promised to be transparent and share detailed information about the crash investigation.

Kihara said the U.S. also assured him that all Ospreys deployed in Japan have been operating only after careful inspection and maintenance.

“Regarding flight safety, we still have concerns,” he said at the news conference in Tokyo. “Therefore, I have been saying that there is a need to continue receiving thorough information.”

Japan grounded its fleet of 14 Ospreys the day after the crash.

The Japanese government is reviewing the U.S. military’s flight safety measures, Kihara said, adding that there are no plans to make additional requests of the U.S. side before the review is complete.

On Monday, U.S. and Japanese divers discovered the Osprey’s fuselage, along with the remains of five crew members, who have not been publicly identified. The body of Staff Sgt. Jacob “Jake” Galliher, 24, of Pittsfield, Mass., was recovered Wednesday shortly after the crash.

Two crew members were still unaccounted for as of Tuesday evening.

Japan is focusing on helping the U.S. find them, Kihara told the reporters.

“The Ministry of Defense and the Self-Defense Forces will do their best to carry out search operations in cooperation with the Japan coast guard, the U.S. military, and others in order to rescue those in need of rescue as soon as possible,” he said.

The Japanese coast guard made no progress in its search Tuesday, according to a news release from the 10th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters. The service said it planned to continue the operation on Wednesday.

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Hana Kusumoto is a reporter/translator who has been covering local authorities in Japan since 2002. She was born in Nagoya, Japan, and lived in Australia and Illinois growing up. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and previously worked for the Christian Science Monitor’s Tokyo bureau.
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Alex Wilson covers the U.S. Navy and other services from Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan. Originally from Knoxville, Tenn., he holds a journalism degree from the University of North Florida. He previously covered crime and the military in Key West, Fla., and business in Jacksonville, Fla.

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