TOKYO — Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced Thursday that most training flights for the MV-22 Osprey aircraft are happening over mainland Japan or elsewhere outside Okinawa to ease controversy over the airplane/helicopter hybrids.

The Osprey deployment has been a source of large-scale protests by Okinawans concerned about the Osprey’s prior safety record.

“More than half of the MV-22 flight operations are now taking place outside of Okinawa,” Hagel said.

In an April 2012 environmental review for basing and operating the Osprey in Japan, the Marine Corps envisioned sending Osprey detachments to Iwakuni and Camp Fuji for an average of two or three days per month, with occasional two-week deployments.

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