Mayor and citizens protest deployment of additional U.S. war helicopters to Okinawa

Mayor Iha Yoichi of Ginowan City in Okinawa on May 9 protested against the deployment by the U.S. Marine Corps of three large helicopters of the same type as the one that crashed at Okinawa International University last August.

The CH53D helicopters, from the U.S.M.C. Iwakuni Air Station in Yamaguchi Prefecture, arrived at U.S.M.C. Futenma Air Station.

Mayor Iha visited the U.S. Marine Corps command in Okinawa and stated, "More than twenty helicopters that had been to Iraq returned to the Futenma base in April. They resumed low-level flights over residential areas. Despite the U.S. promise that there will be no more accidents, Futenma citizens are still facing the possibility of another helicopter crash."

He insisted that the additional helicopter deployment be withdrawn.

A U.S. Marine official explained that the deployment was aimed at supporting the USMC 31st Expeditionary Unit's mission, but he refrained from explaining how long they will be kept there.

On the evening of May 9, the city office workers' union and a citizens' group held an urgent protest rally in front of the base gate. - Akahata, May 10, 2005

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