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HOME  > Past issues  > 2021 June 23 - 29  > US helicopters fly at low altitudes over central Tokyo using metropolitan gov't building as a marker
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2021 June 23 - 29 [US FORCES]

US helicopters fly at low altitudes over central Tokyo using metropolitan gov't building as a marker

June 25, 2021
Central Tokyo areas around the Metropolitan government office building (Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo) have been set as an air route of UH-1 helicopters stationed at the U.S. Yokota Air Base. Akahata learned this on June 24 from a U.S. military document.

Japan's Civil Aeronautics Act prohibits flights at altitudes less than 300 meters from the top edge of the tallest object in densely-populated districts. However, people one after the other have witnessed the U.S. aircraft flying at altitudes lower than the 243-meter-height Metropolitan government building.

The document Akahata obtained is about "UH-1N operations" delivered by the U.S. 374th Airlift Wing at a meeting held in 2015 with people in the aviation industry in Japan.

The attached map titled "UH-1N flight path in bad weather" marks "RJTY", the code for the Yokota AB (Tachikawa City, Tokyo), and "Hardy Barracks" or the U.S. Akasaka Press Center (Minato Ward, Tokyo). The map shows a flight route between the two bases. On the route, there are seven points written in red. In the center of the "Yoyogi" point, the Metropolitan government building is located. Shinjuku Station and the NTT Docomo Yoyogi Building dubbed Docomo Tower are also located nearby.

The map refers to flights "in bad weather" but it is highly possible that the U.S. military uses this flight route regardless of the weather.

The air above central Tokyo is not part of the official airspace provided by the Japanese government to the U.S. military. The flight route that has been brought to light was established unilaterally by the U.S. military. The Japanese Communist Party has been demanding that unlawful flights at low altitudes be ended; the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement which gives special privileges to the U.S. Forces Japan be drastically revised; and the U.S. bases in Tokyo be dismantled.

Itakura Hiroshi, who calls for the removal of the U.S. Akasaka heliport from Tokyo, says that he has been asking Japan's Defense Ministry and the Tokyo metropolitan government for efforts to reduce the noise damage inflicted on the residents living under the flight route as well as to reduce the risk of crashes. However, both governments have not even checked out the flight route and insist that Japan has no concern with U.S. flight routes because these are left up to the U.S. military, according to Itakura. He said, "I will work to create a network of residents and municipalities under the flight path which has surfaced this time."

Past related article:
> JCP Inoue urges gov’t to put stop to US military’s low-altitude flight drills over central Tokyo [April 3, 2021]

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