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HOME  > Past issues  > 2021 July 14 - 27  > Okinawa JCP protests against yet another container drop accident by US military helicopter
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2021 July 14 - 27 [US FORCES]

Okinawa JCP protests against yet another container drop accident by US military helicopter

July 16, 2021

The Japanese Communist Party Okinawa Prefectural Committee and the JCP prefectural assemblypersons’ group on July 15 made representations to the Defense Ministry’s Okinawa Defense Bureau to protest against an accident in which a steel container fell from a U.S. military helicopter into the sea near Irisuna Island where a U.S. military firing range is located.

The JCP also demanded that the U.S. military’s drills on the island be barred.

The accident occurred two days earlier. At around 12:30 p.m., a CH-53E heavy-lift transport helicopter stationed at the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma base dropped a steel container (2.4 meters long, about 2 meters wide and 2.4 meters high) between Irisuna and Tonaki islands in Okinawa’s Tonaki Village. Items in the container included a 9.5-liter fuel tank. It is believed that the container was hanging from the transport aircraft.

In the representations, JCP Lower House member Akamine Seiken, who heads the JCP prefectural committee, submitted to Defense Bureau chief Ono Isao a written request demanding full disclosure of the cause and other information regarding the accident. In addition, the JCP demanded the return of the airspace and ocean area used by the U.S. forces in Okinawa for their military training exercises; the grounding of all military aircraft assigned to the Futenma base; and a drastic revision of the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement.

In response, the Defense Bureau chief said, “The bureau requested the U.S. forces to probe into the cause of the accident, thoroughly implement measures to prevent a recurrence, and take into account public concerns over safety.”

Akamine noted that the U.S. forces did not provide information about the accident before the Japanese authority made contact in response to the first report from the Tonaki Village government. The JCP parliamentarian said, “It seems to me that the U.S. military intended to conceal the accident. If so, it is totally unacceptable.”

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