Local leaders around U.S. Kadena Airbase protest against parachute training

May 25, 2011 Ryukyu Shimpo

On May 25, Chairwoman Mitsuko Tomon, mayor of Okinawa City, and other leaders of the Trilateral Liaison Council concerning U.S. Kadena Airbase met with Colonel David Nahom, commander of the 18th Operations Group, 18th Wing, Kadena Air Base to protest against parachute training in the base that had been held without prior notice. The group of local leaders indicated that in addition to the parachute training being carried out in a location other than the Ie Jima Auxiliary Airfield stipulated in the SACO agreement (Special Actions Committee on Okinawa between the United States Government and the Government of Japan), it was also done without prior notice. “This represents a lack of consideration for residents on the part of the military officials. It is absolutely unacceptable,” they said. In response, the U.S. military claimed that the training was carried out in an appropriate manner, indicating that there is a considerable gulf in approach between the military officials and the local leaders.

According to the chairwoman of the Trilateral Liaison Council, Tomon, and the other local leaders, the base commander insisted that it was out of the ordinary and held on small scale, but within the parameters approved by the U.S. and Japan. He said that it was carried out safely and that there was no need to give prior notice. “The U.S. military explained that the training was safe, but local residents are uneasy about this kind of thing. There is a considerable difference in thinking between the military and residents,” said Tomon.

The local leaders of the Trilateral Liaison Council concerning U.S. Kadena Air Base met with Takashi Daito, the deputy director of Okinawa Defense Bureau, to request that a stop be put to the training. “Personally, I think that this training can be described as ‘out of the ordinary.’ We can’t tell them to stop necessary training.” But at the same time, he said, “It is a fact that local residents are uncomfortable about this,” and explained that the Defense Bureau had not received any prior notice either. The deputy director stated that the Bureau had commented to the U.S. military that this was “extremely regrettable.”

(English Translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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