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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 October 11 - 17  > Anti-base ‘All Okinawa’ lawmakers urge defense authority to halt flights of US military aircraft
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2017 October 11 - 17 [US FORCES]

Anti-base ‘All Okinawa’ lawmakers urge defense authority to halt flights of US military aircraft

October 13, 2017
In reaction to the U.S. CH-53E Sea Stallion helicopter crash in the Takae district in Okinawa’s Higashi Village, a group of anti-base “All Okinawa” lawmakers on October 12 made representations to the Defense Ministry’s local bureau, urging the bureau to request the U.S. military to suspend all Sea Stallions’ flights.

The lawmakers’ group included two Okinawa-elected Upper House members and four united opposition candidates running for the coming general election from four single-seat districts in the prefecture. They are: Japanese Communist Party member Akamine Seiken, Social Democratic Party member Teruya Kantoku, and independents Tamaki Denny and Nakazato Toshinobu.

In the representations, Akamine criticized the central government for constructing U.S. military helipads so close to the Takae community. He said, “The government must push the U.S. forces to ground CH-53 helicopters.”

Pointing to the fact that the same type of aircraft crashed on the Okinawa International University campus in 2004, Teruya said, “At that time, the national government failed to make a strong protest in regard to the crash. This led to the latest incident.”

Tamaki said, “I heard that it was the U.S. military that dealt with the burning chopper at the crash site, on a pig farmer’s pasture. If sea water is used to extinguish fires, it can harm the grass.” He noted that regarding the 2004 incident, it was reported that radioactive substances were emitted from the aircraft. Tamaki demanded that the defense bureau monitor for radioactive contamination at the latest crash site.

Nakazato said, “I used to think the U.S. Marine Corps is necessary as deterrence. But, with the U.S. military’s arbitrary behavior, I changed my mind. Total withdrawal of the Marine Corps is the only way to prevent accidents involving U.S. military aircraft.”

In response, Defense Bureau Director General Nakajima Koichiro said that the bureau will instruct the U.S. forces to take effective preventive measures. He, however, mentioned no concrete step that should be taken such as flight suspension. In addition, he provided no information about nuclear contamination or other secondary damage to the private land.

Past related article:
> Univ. in Okinawa marks 9th anniversary of US chopper crash onto its campus [August 14, 2013]
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