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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 January 17 - 23  > Okinawa governor protests against flights of US military helicopters over elementary school
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2018 January 17 - 23 [US FORCES]

Okinawa governor protests against flights of US military helicopters over elementary school

January 19 and 20, 2018

Okinawa Governor Onaga Takeshi on January 19 at a press conference protested against the U.S. military, saying that in breach of its promise, U.S. military aircraft flew over an elementary school which experienced a drop accident involving a U.S. helicopter.

The school, Futenma No.2 Elementary School, which is located next to the U.S. Futenma base, on December 18 of 2017 suffered an accident in which an 8-kg window fell from a U.S. military helicopter onto the schoolyard. After the accident, the U.S. Marine Corps promised that its aircraft will bypass the airspace above the school as much as possible.

However, on January 18, three U.S. military helicopters flew over the elementary school. On the same day, an evacuation drill in the event of a military helicopter accident took place at the school.

Governor Onaga in the press conference said that the U.S. military broke its word only one month after the falling object accident and that it is “outrageous”.

Refuting the U.S. military’s assertion that none of its aircraft entered the sky over the school on that day, Onaga said that three helicopters were witnessed by the Defense Ministry’s local bureau staff and the ministry’s camera. He stressed that if the U.S. military denies the fact, it should provide evidence.

In addition, Onaga urged the Japanese government to handle the issue with a firm stance.

Concerning the flights of the U.S. military helicopters, Defense Minister Onodera Itsunori on January 18 said that the ministry’s local bureau staff witnessed three U.S. military aircraft in the sky over the Futenma No.2 Elementary School. He also said that a camera that the ministry installed at the elementary school captured the image of the helicopters flying overhead.

Past related articles:
> Okinawa Prefecture demands halt to flights of all US military aircraft in protest against frequent accidents [January 10, 2018]
> Okinawa Gov. Onaga lodges with central government protest against window dropped from US military copter [December 14-16, 2017]
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