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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 May 20 - 26  > US military helicopters conduct flight in formation above childcare center in Okinawa
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2020 May 20 - 26 [US FORCES]

US military helicopters conduct flight in formation above childcare center in Okinawa

May 24, 2020
Children, their parents, and staff at the Midorigaoka Childcare Center in Okinawa’s Ginowan City were shocked to see five U.S. military helicopters flying right overhead in formation earlier this month.

The aircraft were CH-5E sea stallion helicopters stationed at the U.S. Futenma Base in the city. A helicopter of this type in December 2017 accidentally dropped a part onto the premises of the very same childcare center. Following the drop accident, the Ginowan City Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution demanding that U.S. military aircraft refrain from flying above the facility until the cause of the accident is determined.

The formation flight was observed at around 4 p.m. on May 8 as many parents were waiting at the playground to pick up their children. A mother, one of the witnesses, said “The strong vibrations and noise made my heart beat violently. We have been urging the U.S. military to not fly above our childcare center, but they carried out this formation flight at a low altitude. It was shocking.”

According to an Akahata report, the five U.S. military helicopters in question on that day were heading to a training field in Okinawa to conduct an air-to-ground live-fire drill.

Miyagi Tomoko, who heads the “Team Midorigaoka 1207” organized by parents and staff members of the Midorigaoka nursery school to oppose U.S. military flights, criticized the U.S. military for showing no remorse or hesitation over conducting the formation flights above the childcare center even after the part-drop accident in 2017. This group was formed by parents and workers at the Midorigaoka Childcare Center after the 2017 incident.

Kamiya Takehiro, the principal at the childcare center, saw the formation flight from inside the building. He stated that the U.S. forces pay little regard to children’s safety. He stressed that the U.S. military conducts flight drills in defiance of the city assembly’s resolution and that the Japanese government gives approval to this defiant U.S. attitude. Kamiya expressed his determination to work to further increase public awareness of the issue nationwide in order to realize a flight ban.

Past related articles:
> 2 years after US military’s part-drop accident on Okinawa kindergarten, parents make fresh call for flight ban [ December 7, 2019]
> US military airplane drops cylindrical part on childcare facility near Futenma base [ December 8, 2017]
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