Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera agreed with Saga Gov Yoshinori Yamaguchi to pay 10 billion yen over 20 years to deploy Osprey tilt-rotor transport aircraft in the prefecture, a ministry official said Friday.
The southwestern Japan prefecture will use part of the money to support local fishermen who are concerned that the aircraft's noise may affect their business, the official said.
The Defense Ministry agreed to pay the sum as landing fees during Onodera's visit to the prefecture to meet the governor and the head of a local fishermen's group.
Onodera told the group's chief that the ministry plans to conduct a thorough study on the effects of the Osprey's noise on fish.
The ministry seeks to deploy 17 newly acquired Ospreys at Saga airport to strengthen Japan's ability to protect outlying islands amid China's increasing maritime presence.
It is considering sending five of the 17, which are expected to arrive from the United States as early as the autumn, tentatively to the Ground Self-Defense Force's Camp Kisarazu in Chiba Prefecture near Tokyo, as Saga airport is unlikely to be ready for their deployment by then.
Tokyo has faced difficulty in pushing ahead with the plan after a GSDF AH-64D attack helicopter crashed into a home in Kanzaki in Saga Prefecture in February, resulting in the deaths of the pilot and co-pilot, while a girl was slightly injured when she fled the home.
U.S. government data show the rate of severe accidents involving the Marines' MV-22 Ospreys as of September last year rose about 1.7 times from the figure released in April 2012.
But Defense Ministry officials have claimed that the rising percentage of accidents has nothing to do with the safety of the Osprey itself.
The ministry said the GSDF has no plans to conduct aerial refueling missions and other operations above Saga Prefecture, as part of safety measures.