Japan Press Weekly
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Okinawa Ogimi Village Assembly adopts a written statement opposing US helipads
The Assembly of Ogimi Village in Northern Okinawa on June 10 unanimously adopted a written statement for the first time opposing the construction of U.S. Marine Corps helipads in its district. The helipads are planned to be built in the neighboring Takae district in Higashi Village.
In the 1996 Final Report, the Japan-U.S. Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) agreed to return a major portion of the U.S. Marine Corps Northern Training Area on condition of relocating the helipads to a location near Takae.
The statement also calls for the unconditional return of the Training Area, saying that the process has been delayed because, like the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station, Okinawans and local people do not accept the construction of new helipads on the grounds that it will strengthen the functions of the U.S. Training Area.
It further criticizes the Okinawa Regional Defense Facility Administration Bureau for filing a lawsuit against those who took part in anti helipad sit-ins, stating that this is extremely disrespectful to local residents. In addition, the statement expresses concerns about a possible increase in noise levels and helicopter crashes, pointing out that the villagers are already worried about and protesting against the growing number of low-altitude flights.
Isa Masatsugu, a member of the Association of Residents against the Helicopter Pad, anticipates that other local assemblies will emulate the Ogimi Village Assemblyf resolution and said that as local people are opposing the Training Area, it is only natural to have it removed.
- Akahata, June 11, 2010
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