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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 January 10 - 16  > Okinawa Prefecture demands halt to flights of all US military aircraft in protest against frequent accidents
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2018 January 10 - 16 [US FORCES]

Okinawa Prefecture demands halt to flights of all US military aircraft in protest against frequent accidents

January 10, 2018
Okinawans raised an outcry against the several serial emergency landings that U.S. military helicopters stationed at the U.S. Futenma base in Okinawa caused within three days, demanding that all U.S. military aircraft be grounded for inspections.

A UH-1 chopper of the Futenma base on January 6 made a forced landing on a beach in Uruma City. On January 8, an AH-1 helicopter which is also attached to the Futenma base made an emergency landing at an industrial waste disposal site in Yomitan Village.

Okinawa Vice Governor Tomikawa Moritake on January 9 summoned Foreign Ministry Ambassador in charge of Okinawa affairs Kawada Tsukasa and Defense Ministry Okinawa Defense Bureau chief Nakajima Koichiro to the prefectural government office to hand over Governor Onaga Takeshi’s written protest to them.

Referring to the frequent accidents involving U.S. military aircraft, the vice governor said, “Each time such an accident occurred the prefectural government lodged a protest, but the situation has not improved in the least. Residents’ anxieties concerning their safety are growing rather than decreasing.” Tomikawa stated that the Japanese government should request the U.S. military to conduct an emergency safety inspection of all its aircraft stationed in Okinawa and refrain from flying them until the inspections are conducted. However, Kawada and Nakajima made no comment in regard to the suspension of flights.

Commenting on the recent two accidents, Governor Onaga Takeshi at a press conference said, “I am at a loss for words. The Japanese government should be ashamed of not fulfilling its role to protect the safety of civilians.”

Yomitan Village Mayor Ishimine Denjitsu on the same day told Nakajima, who visited the village office to apologize for the accidents, that U.S. military aircraft must be banned from taking off until the causes of the accidents are determined. Toyama Hiroshi, the mayor of the Kadena Town which borders on Yomitan Town and hosts the U.S. Kadena base, also attended the meeting. Toyama said, “The current situation is unacceptable. U.S. military aircraft should not be allowed to fly directly over residential areas.”

***

Japanese Communist Party Secretariat Head Koike Akira on January 9 at a press conference in the Diet building pointed out “Regardless of the type of aircraft, U.S. military aircraft in Okinawa have been involved in numerous accidents. It is matter of course for the U.S. forces to suspend all flights and carry out safety inspections.”

Koike noted that U.S. military aircraft repeatedly caused accidents across Okinawa, but the Japanese government just requested the U.S. to take measures to prevent a recurrence and implemented no effective countermeasures. He stressed, “The only solution to this problem is to remove the Futenma base unconditionally.”

Past related article:
> Forced landing incident of US military chopper recurs just 2 days after 1st one in Okinawa [ January 9, 2018]
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