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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 May 10 - 16  > Okinawans have witnessed US aircraft crash once a year for half a century
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2017 May 10 - 16 [US FORCES]

Okinawans have witnessed US aircraft crash once a year for half a century

May 15, 2017
Forty-five years have passed since Okinawa reverted to Japan from under the U.S. military occupation. However, Okinawans’ human rights and dignity are still infringed upon by the continued presence of the U.S. forces.

The Okinawa Prefecture’s survey shows that U.S. military aircraft caused 709 accidents in Okinawa between May 1972 and the end of 2016. Of them, 47 were plane crashes, which is a pace of more than once a year.

To take some recent examples, in September 2016, an AV-8 Harrier taking off from the U.S. Kadena Air Base crashed into waters about 150 kilometers east of the main island of Okinawa. In December, an MV-22 Osprey stationed at the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station went down and was severely damaged in the shallows off Okinawa’s Nago City. The Japanese and U.S. governments insisted that the Osprey crash was just a “ditching”.

The Okinawa Prefectural Police records show that the number of criminal offenses committed by U.S. military personnel totals 5,929 between May 1972 and the end of March 2017. Of them, 578 are heinous crimes such as rape and murder. In April 2016, a young Japanese woman was brutally raped and killed by an ex-U.S. marine in Uruma City. The number of murder cases of civilians committed by U.S. personnel stands at 12 during the same period of time.

The Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) grants jurisdiction to the United States when trying cases of crimes which are perpetrated by on-duty U.S. military personnel. It is a pressing need to drastically revise such an unequal bilateral accord.
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