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HOME  > Past issues  > 2015 August 19 - 25  > Okinawa municipalities and fishermen angry over US helicopter crash
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2015 August 19 - 25 [US FORCES]

Okinawa municipalities and fishermen angry over US helicopter crash

August 19 & 20, 2015
The assemblies of Okinawa’s Uruma City and Yomitan Village on August 18 unanimously adopted a resolution, respectively, in protest against a U.S. Army helicopter crash.

The special-forces MH-60 helicopter crashed into the sea off Uruma City on the east coast of Okinawa’s main island six days ago. Around the crash site is an inshore fishing area where many fishermen operate every day.

The Uruma resolution criticizes the accident for causing great fear among Uruma citizens and fishermen and demands a thorough investigation and the publication of the cause of the incident.

U.S. Army Chief of Staff Genral Raymond Odierno reportedly said that he refuses to overreact to just one accident. To this remark, the Yomitan resolution responds, “We cannot overlook the situation as he lacks a sense of the responsibility as the person in charge and downplays the Okinawans’ right to live.”

* * *

A group of heads of fisheries cooperatives in Okinawa on August 18 held a general assembly in Naha City and approved a unanimous resolution pressing the Okinawa Defense Bureau to protest against the U.S. Forces Japan and request recurrence prevention measures.

The waters around the crash site are good for squid fishing and “mozuku” (alga-like seaweed) farms which are the largest in Okinawa in the production of mozuku.

The fisheries cooperatives leaders expressed concern about the incident as it could have been a catastrophic event directly affecting fishermen operating in the area.

Their resolution states, “Frequent U.S. aircraft accidents show that the USFJ disregards the importance of risk management” and criticizes the USFJ for “endangering the safety of fishermen, their fishing operations, and their lives and properties on a daily basis”.

* * *

The Okinawa Prefectural Assembly held an extraordinary session on August 19, unanimously adopting a resolution demanding that the U.S. Forces halt flight training exercises of the MH-60 helicopters until the cause of the accident is determined.

In a discussion on the resolution, head of the group of Japanese Communist Party assemblypersons, Kayo Sogi, referred to the fact that two members of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces were aboard the aircraft that crashed. He noted that this accident revealed that the SDF is already engaged in drills for Japan-U.S. joint special operations even before the controversial national security legislation is enacted.

On the same day, mayors of the three municipalities hosting the U.S. Kadena Air Base in Okinawa (Kadena Town, Okinawa City, and Chatan Town) made representations to both U.S. and Japanese authorities, pressing for a halt to flight exercises over residential areas.

Criticizing the U.S. Forces for resuming the flight training exercises of MH-60s on August 18, these municipal leaders claimed that the U.S. military should refrain from operating the helicopters until the cause of the accident is discovered.

Past related articles:
> US Army aircraft crashes during antiterrorism drill[August 14, 2015]
> Okinawa Prefectural Assembly’s committee protests against US helicopter crash[August 15, 2015]
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