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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 August 28 - September 3  > 'No harm done' is unacceptable reason for Japan to overlook accidental dropping of US military plane part
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2019 August 28 - September 3 TOP3 [US FORCES]
editorial 

'No harm done' is unacceptable reason for Japan to overlook accidental dropping of US military plane part

September 3, 2019

Akahata editorial (excerpts)

A U.S. CH-53E helicopter attached to the U.S. Futenma air base in Okinawa's Ginowan City accidentally dropped a window onto the sea in Okinawa in late August.

According to Okinawa prefectural government statistics, after the 1972 reversion of Okinawa to Japan, the dropping of parts from U.S. military aircraft, including CH-53Es, occurred 70 times as of the end of last December. Each time a dropping incident occurs, the U.S. forces repeat that they will take measures to prevent a recurrence. The accident this time shows how insufficient their measures have been.

These years, it has become more frequent for U.S. military aircraft to cause accidents. The U.S. military itself admits to structural problems: a lack of skilled engineers and specialists, shortage of repair parts, and financial difficulties since the U.S. waged an expensive war in 2001 on Afghanistan.

The 2018 U.S. Marine Aviation Plan points out, "Sixteen years' combat operations have stressed the limited number of these aging airframes," and "multiple lines of effort" have been exerted "to sustain this 28-year-old airframe". It is obvious that recurrence prevention measures alone cannot be a fundamental solution to the repeated accidents.

Japanese Defense Minister Iwaya Takeshi on August 30 held a press conference and said that the accident did "not cause any damage" and that the government, therefore, will "not ask the U.S. to suspend" flights of the aircraft. In January of last year, in response to a question raised at a Lower House plenary session over the issue of the numerous accidents involving U.S. military aircraft stationed at the U.S. Futenma base, Matsumoto Fumiaki, a Cabinet Office State Minister, jeered from the ruling bench, saying, "How many people were killed in those accidents?" The state minister was, because of this abusive remark, later forced into resigning.

It is a matter of course that the Okinawa Times dated August 31 criticizes Iwaya's "not cause any damage" remark. The newspaper said that Matsumoto and Iwaya are almost the same in terms of their lack of ability to comprehend the stress in Okinawans' everyday lives with U.S. military planes flying overhead.

Past related article:
> State minister resigns over his abusive remark about US military aircraft accidents in Okinawa [January 27, 2018]

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