The Saturday editions of Ryukyu Shimpo and Okinawa Times wrote that in response to low-altitude flights conducted by U.S. military aircraft in Okinawa, Chairman Teruya of an Okinawa prefectural assembly committee on base issues visited Director Tanaka of the Defense Ministry’s Okinawa bureau and Consul General Robert Koepcke at the U.S. Consulate General Naha on Friday to lodge a protest. The local assemblyman called for the low-altitude flight training to be suspended immediately. Ryukyu Shimpo quoted Teruya as telling the paper that Tanaka said he believes the U.S. side understands the views of the people of Okinawa and there is an operational need for such training. Teruya reportedly asked Consul General Koepcke to provide an opportunity to discuss the issue with the central and local governments. According to Teruya, the Consul General replied by indicating the possibility of considering the request.
In a related development, the papers wrote that Defense Minister Kishi commented on the local assembly’s adoption of a resolution and a written opinion calling for the suspension of low-altitude flights and a drastic review of the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement at a press briefing on Friday. Kishi reportedly said he is aware of Okinawa residents’ concerns. He added, however, that such flight training is important for U.S. forces to perform their mission of defending Japan under the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty.