[This article reflects only an account of the meeting provided by the visiting Diet members and political group.]
In the wake of a series of incidents involving U.S. military helicopters deployed to the U.S. Marines Corps Air Station Futenma, Diet members from six opposition parties and a political group visited the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo on Feb. 2 and lodged a protest, requesting that all military aircraft undergo major inspection and repair, cease flying during that period and refrain from flying over schools. Aaron Snipe, chief of the Embassy’s security policy division, met with them. He apologized for the incidents and said he would convey their request to U.S. Ambassador to Japan William Hagerty.
With regards to the different views held by the Japanese and U.S. authorities concerning the flight of a helicopter above the Futenma Daini Elementary School, Snipe told them that U.S. military aircraft radars have affixed to them a label indicating if the aircraft is in airspace above the school and explained that “the question is not whether the aircraft was flying over the school or in airspace not directly over the school. We are focusing on how to improve the situation that created concern in the community.” He also noted that the U.S. military is mulling flying while avoiding the airspace above facilities.
The request was made by the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, Party of Hope, Democratic Party, Japanese Communist Party and Social Democratic Party, as well as the Okinawa Whirlwind.