U.S. Forces helicopters enforce landing on Okinawa's island ignoring airport regulations

Akahata of May 11 reported that the U.S. Marine Corps large helicopters landed for refueling on an island in southern Okinawa, apparently with the aim of using civilian airports on a regular basis.

Ignoring protest by local governments concerned and in violation of the prefectural regulations, CH53 helicopters of the U.S. Marine Corps on April 28 made landings at Hateruma Airport on Sakijima Island. According to the rule on Hateruma Airport, the maximum weight allowed for each wheel of an airplane must be less than three tons.

On May 10, the U.S. Forces notified the prefectural government of the landing of their large helicopters at Hateruma Airport in Taketomi Town and Shimochi-shima Airport in Irabu Town. These two town governments are opposed to the helicopter landings, saying that they will lead to making these airports permanent relay bases for the U.S. Forces. The prefectural government has refused to accept the notice and is calling on the U.S. Forces to stop landings.

According to the U.S. Forces, 20 helicopters, together with a tanker plane, will come to these airports on their way back from the Balikatan exercises in the Philippines.

Taketomi Town mayor Nane Gen said, "We cannot bear that our peaceful island will be turned into a U.S. military stronghold." (end)