Nago City Assembly demands U.S. stop shooting drills

In protest against the "misfire" incident caused by the U.S. Forces in Okinawa, Nago City Assembly on July 25 adopted a unanimous resolution, demanding that live ammunition exercises at U.S. Camp Schwab be stopped and the base site be reduced.

On July 23, shells from a M2 heavy machine gun was shot into the land only two meters from a Japanese farmer, who was working at a pine field adjacent to the base.

Since 1973, at least five 'mis-shot' incidents have happened around U.S. Camp Schwab, the city assembly resolution pointed out. Considering the shells might have killed the farmer, the assembly urges the U.S. Forces in Okinawa to end exercises at "Range 10," at which the shells in question were allegedly fired.

The Japanese Communist Party Okinawa Prefectural Committee on July 25 made representations to the Naha Regional Defense Facilities Administration Bureau in Okinawa, demanding that the bureau request the U.S. Forces in Okinawa to apologize and compensate the farmer concerned, end shooting drills, and remove the base site.

Pointing out that the shooting drill site is only 4.5 kilometers long, far shorter than an M2's range of 6.8 kilometers, Okinawa's JCP emphasized such an incident could have happened anytime.

The JCP Okinawa Prefectural Assembly members Group on July 24 made an on-spot investigation into the incident, and at an extraordinary meeting of the assembly's special committee on U.S. military bases proposed that the committee enter U.S. Camp Schwab to inspect the incident.

On the same day, Matsumoto Zenmei, JCP lawmaker, stated at the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee meeting, that Okinawans are angered at the incident and that there is no alternative but to get the exercises field closed down.

Referring to the National Prefectural Governors Association's resolution calling for a review of the Status of U.S. Forces in Japan Agreement (SOFA), he argued that the Foreign Minister is weak-kneed in his reluctance to call to shut down the exercise field. (end)