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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 October 11 - 17  > Okinawa governor expresses rage over US helicopter crash
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2017 October 11 - 17 [US FORCES]

Okinawa governor expresses rage over US helicopter crash

October 13, 2017
A day after a U.S. military helicopter crashed and caught fire at a pasture on the Okinawa mainland, Okinawa Governor Onaga Takeshi on October 12 visited the site and expressed his anger.

The aircraft in question is one of the CH-53E helicopters stationed at the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma base in Okinawa. The accident occurred only 300 meters away from a private house in the Takae District in Higashi Village. The body of the aircraft was burnt black and totally destroyed.

A farmer who owns the pasture said, “I have to give up harvesting grass from here this year. Perhaps I will be unable to obtain grass next year if ever.” He also said that he has to stop shipping pigs because I cannot enter the pasture due to the accident and that if this situation continues for long, it will cause him a huge financial loss.

After viewing the accident site firsthand, Governor Onaga said, “People on our island are facing a risk of experiencing such a horrible accident daily. I don’t think that should be considered normal. I feel sad, vexed, and angry.”

Later on the same day, the governor at the prefectural office met with Kishida Fumio, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s policy research commission chair. Onaga stressed that each time a similar accident occurred, the prefecture urged the state government to fulfill its responsibility to prevent a recurrence. He went on to say that the state just repeated, “Okinawa’s request will be conveyed to the U.S. military” and ended up doing nothing.

Okinawa Vice Governor Tomikawa Moritake at the prefectural office summoned the chief of the Defense Ministry’s Okinawa Defense Bureau and a Foreign Ministry official to lodge Okinawa’s protest against the accident. Tomikawa pointed out that the crippled helicopter may have contained radioactive materials. He demanded that the national government examine whether or not the site is contaminated with toxic substances. The vice governor added that as a dam is not far away from the site, the central government should check to see if the surrounding natural environment and the water in the dam have been affected.

Tomikawa argued that the prefecture should be allowed to carry out on-site investigations and that the national government should compensate landowners for damages if the pasture is found to be contaminated.
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