Tokashiki and Zamami Villages (Okinawa)—At an extraordinary session on Jan. 22, the Tokashiki Village Assembly (chair: Yasuhiro Tamaki) unanimously adopted a written protest against a series of low-altitude flight training exercises conducted by the U.S. military over the area surrounding the Kerama Islands. The assembly also adopted a written request that fundamental changes be made to the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement. The Zamami Village Assembly (chair: Hidekatsu Nakamura) held an extraordinary session on Jan. 18 and adopted a similar written protest and request.
The low-altitude exercises were conducted from late December 2020 to early January 2021. “A serious, life-threatening accident could have resulted from such exercises,” the documents point out. They go on to criticize the U.S. military’s casual attitude toward safety, saying, “We are outraged by the practice. It should never be excused.” The documents are addressed to the U.S. Ambassador to Japan and the Commander of U.S. forces Japan among others.
Tokashiki Village Mayor Hidekatsu Zamami and Zamami Village Mayor Satoshi Miyazato visited the Okinawa Defense Bureau’s office in Naha on Jan. 15 and urged the bureau to take steps to stop the exercises which pose a threat and cause alarm among Okinawa residents. According to the two mayors, they were assured that Okinawa Defense Bureau Director-General Toshinori Tanaka will make a request to the U.S. military.