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SECURITY

U.S. rejects request to stop transporting objects suspended from choppers

  • March 4, 2020
  • , Ryukyu Shimpo , p. 2
  • JMH Translation

The head of Okinawa Prefecture’s Military Bases Affairs Division, Norikazu Kinjo, visited the U.S. military’s Camp Zukeran and the U.S. Consulate General in Okinawa on March 3 to lodged a protest on behalf of the prefectural government over the incident in which a Futenma-based U.S. Marine CH-53E heavy-lift transport helicopter dropped a steel mock-target off the coast of Yomitan Village. Kinjo called for discontinuation of activities that involve transporting suspended objects over Yomitan. Prior to the visit, the Okinawa government had asked senior officials from the camp and the consulate to come to the government building for talks, but they did not agree to the request.

 

Kinjo urged the U.S. side to thoroughly investigate the cause of the incident and take to measures to avoid a recurrence. In addition, he asked the U.S. side to desist from activities that involve transporting suspended objects near Yomitan Village. According to Kinjo and others who were present, they were met by Col. Neil Owens, the chief of the U.S. Marine’s Government and External Affairs Division, at Camp Zukeran and by Hilary Dauer, the principal consular officer at the U.S. Consulate General. Both expressed words of apology, but they did not agree to halt activities involving the transport of objects suspended from helicopters. 

 

Owens explained, “We will not stop training, as it is necessary to train our marines.” Kinjo responded by stressing that “in view of tragic accidents in the past, we as the prefectural government must ask you to stop activities near Torii station so as not to alarm local residents.”

 

After lodging the protest, Kinjo pointed out: “Okinawa is a small island with a concentration of many bases and U.S. military personnel. That leads to accidents and incidents. As a fundamental solution, we need to reduce the bases and the U.S. military presence.”

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