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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 October 11 - 17  > Okinawans raise outcry against CH-53E copter crash in Takae
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2017 October 11 - 17 TOP3 [US FORCES]

Okinawans raise outcry against CH-53E copter crash in Takae

October 14 &16, 2017

In protest against the latest crash of a U.S. CH-53E military helicopter, 200 Okinawans on October 15 held a rally in front of the main gate of the USMC Northern Training Area near the crash site, shouting, “U.S. bases endangering Okinawans’ lives must be removed.”

The rally was called for by two local groups opposed to the presence of U.S. military helipads.

A CH-53E Sea Stallion copter stationed at the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma base on October 11 crashed and burst into flames in a pasture, only 300 meters away from a private house in Higashi Village’s Takae community. This small community is surrounded by six U.S. military helipads which were constructed by the Japanese government in exchange for a partial return of the U.S. military training field in northern Okinawa.

In the rally, Isa Masatsugu, Japanese Communist Party member of the U.S. base-hosting Higashi Village assembly, delivered a speech. Telling the participants that the resident representatives’ organization in Takae adopted a resolution demanding a halt to the use of the six helipads, Isa said, “For us Takae people, the latest incident is the last straw.”

Representing one of the two local groups, Ashimine Gentatsu angrily said that even the day after the horrible incident, U.S. military aircraft conducted flight training exercises over the Takae community. “The only way to end our suffering is to get rid of all U.S. military facilities,” he added.

On October 13, a special committee on U.S. base issues of the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly resolved to protest against the latest crash and demand a prohibition on the use of the six helipads and a halt to flight drills over residential and water resource areas. This is the first time for the prefectural assembly to make a request to ban helipad use.

On the previous day in Takae, the board of resident representatives unanimously adopted a resolution calling for a complete ban on U.S. military helipads. The resolution also urges that: the cause of the crash be determined; impact from radioactive materials said to be emitted from the crashed helicopter on the environment be monitored; and that compensation to the owner of the pasture for damages be paid.

After the adoption of the resolution, Takae district leader Nakamine Kumiko said, “What we had always feared has actually happened. In order to prevent a recurrence, the need is to withdraw all U.S. military bases. However, as an immediate task, we decided to demand the closure of military helipads surrounding our community.”
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