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SECURITY > Okinawa

Suga defends U.S. military’s low-altitude flight training in Okinawa

  • February 18, 2021
  • , Okinawa Times, Ryukyu Shimpo
  • JMH Summary

Okinawa Times and Ryukyu Shimpo reported on remarks made at the Diet on Wednesday by Prime Minister Suga when he was asked by an opposition lawmaker representing Okinawa about low-altitude flight training by U.S. military planes. “I acknowledge that local anxiety is growing,” said the premier. “However, the U.S. military’s flight drills are important to achieve the goals of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty…. The Defense and Foreign Ministries are responsible for having the U.S. military comply with rules, pay maximum attention to safety, and minimize the impact on local communities.” MC-130Js belonging to the 353rd Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron have been seen carrying out such flights repeatedly over the Kerama Islands and Kunigami Village in the main island of Okinawa since late December. According to the dailies, Defense Minister Kishi disclosed during the same meeting that the U.S. military has said the training is being conducted based on a bilateral agreement. Okinawa Times wrote that these training sessions were apparently conducted outside of the designated training airspace, adding that combined with the recent arrest of a Marine for molestation, the “dangerous” flight training illustrates the excessive burden imposed on the people of Okinawa for the sake of maintaining the U.S.-Japan alliance.

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