Japan Press Weekly
[Advanced search]
Past issues
Special issues
Fact Box
Feature Articles
Mail to editor
Mail magazine
HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 June 5 - 11  > Flights of US military aircraft threaten Okinawa children’s safety
> List of Past issues
Bookmark and Share
2019 June 5 - 11 [US FORCES]

Flights of US military aircraft threaten Okinawa children’s safety

June 7, 2019

In Okinawa, accidents involving U.S. military aircraft stationed at the U.S. Futenma base often hamper children and students from enjoying outdoor activities at school.

On June 4, a part-drop accident occurred at a public junior high school in Urasoe City bordering on Ginowan City hosting the Futenma base. A CH-53E transport helicopter deployed to the Futenma base dropped a rubber part onto a tennis court on school grounds where students were playing tennis as an after-school club activity. Following the incident, the school decided to evacuate students from the schoolyard to the school building every time a U.S. military helicopter flies over the school. Open-air classes were also temporarily suspended.

Meanwhile, the U.S. forces claimed that no people or property were affected by the latest drop accident and showed no intent to offer an apology.

These accidents have been posing a threat to the safety of Okinawans, most seriously the safety of children. In addition to the recent drop accident, a U.S. military helicopter crashed at Okinawa International University in 2004 and part-drop accidents at a childcare center and an elementary school, both located near the Futenma base, occurred in December 2017.

Goya Tatsumi, a parent of a student at the elementary school which experienced the 2017 part-drop accident, recalled that since the accident, students have not had physical education classes outdoors and have been prohibited from using the schoolyard for after-school club activities. He said, “Even now, children are instructed to hide in shelters, which were set up on the schoolyard after the accident, whenever a U.S. military airplane approaches the school. With the constant overhead flights of U.S. military aircraft, children are deprived of the right to learn under a safe school environment and undergo severe stress.”

Goya also said, “What the Japanese government should do is to press the U.S. forces to not fly over schools and work for an early return of the Futenma base.”

The Abe government insists that the relocation of the Futenma base to Nago’s Henoko district is the only solution to remove the dangers associated with the base. However, due to a considerable delay, the prospects for further progress in the Henoko base project are very doubtful. Without relying on the Henoko relocation, the government should work for an early closure and return of the Futenma base in order to protect children’s lives.

Past related articles:
> 120,000 signatures collected seeking ban on military flights over childcare centers in Okinawa[ February 10, 2018]
> Heads of 9 universities in Okinawa demand that US military aircraft stop flying over their campuses [October 28, 2018]
> Okinawans’ anger reaches boiling point due to frequent falling objects from US military aircraft [ December 14, 2017]

> List of Past issues
  Copyright (c) Japan Press Service Co., Ltd. All right reserved