At a media conference held on Friday last week, Defence Minister Morimoto said that Japan had requested from the United States a full briefing on the circumstances that led to the crash, given the degree of public interest in Japan in relation to the Osprey and its somewhat less-than-stellar safety record (an issue of particular concern to the Okinawans given the crash of a US Marine helicopter into a building on the campus of Okinawa International University in Ginowan City in 2004). During the course of questioning from journalists, it became increasingly clear that Japan had not received any additional detail on the crash other than what was already available via open source materials. Given the relatively short time frame following the crash itself and Japan's request for information, such a situation is entirely understandable, although it does raise a pertinent point.
Given expectations that the Osprey might warrant additional attention by the militaries of both countries in response to any mishaps, the fact that the only information available to the government of Japan was sourced from newspapers and other media reports is surprising. In contrast to the crash of a F/A-18 Super Hornet in Virginia two months ago that prompted an request for information from the Australian Department of Defence (given the fact that the aircraft concerned was not of the same class used by the RAAF), the crash of an Osprey would presumably elicit a rapid response by the US government given the sensitivity of the entire question of deployments of Osprey aircraft to Okinawa.
Such is the level of mistrust between the federal government and the citizens of Okinawa regarding the Osprey that the issue could provoke the prefectural government into halting all discussions with Tokyo on base relocation and refusing to acquiesce with US demands that the deployment of the Osprey go ahead as planned (i.e, August 2012). As Professor Gavan McCormarck so vividly illustrated, the question of bases in Okinawa has reached a point in which neither side appears willing nor able to agree to the demands of the other, no matter how many calls for "understanding" are made. The Osprey question has merely exacerbated what was a complex issue, and that cannot be a positive development given the amount of debate already expended on the issue of base relocation.