U.S. military to permit Okinawan people to pass through bases in case of Tsunami

U.S. military to permit Okinawan people to pass through bases in case of Tsunami

Evacuation routes through the bases following tsunami warnings


September 13, 2012 Ryukyu Shimpo

On September 12, at an evacuation drill explanatory session held in Camp Foster, a representative of the U.S. Marines in Okinawa stated that in the case of a tsunami, the Corps will allow local Okinawans to pass through the bases on foot via three approaches accessible from Route 58 adjacent to Camp Foster and U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. Colonel Dan Dowse, the director for operations and training on Marine Corps Bases in Okinawa said, “The door will be open to support the local residents for the rapid evacuation.” Following the Great East Japan Earthquake, municipalities in Okinawa asked the U.S. military to allow locals to pass through the bases in case of a tsunami.

U.S. military forces will permit Okinawan citizens to pass through Futenma Air Station from Oyama Gate to Samashita Gate, through Camp Foster from Kitame Gate to Legion Gate, and from Spot Gate to PX Gate. They are discussing evacuation routes through Camp Kinser in Urasoe.

That same day, the Marine Corps invited about 70 Okinawan citizens to Camp Foster, and conducted an evacuation drill in which the participants walked the evacuation route through Camp Foster from Kitame Gate to Legion Gate.

The Ginowan Municipal Government, Futenma Air Station and Camp Foster are discussing the process for concluding an agreement to allow local Okinawan people to pass through the bases in the case of natural disasters.

Dowse said that it would be possible to allow Okinawa people access through the bases from today if earthquakes occur and evacuation is needed. Colonel Katherine Estes, Headquarters and Service Battalion Commanding Officer of Camp Foster, said, “The gates will be open at the time of the warning signal, even before the official agreement is signed.” They have asked the Japanese government to convey tsunami warnings to them as quickly as possible.

Ginowan Mayor Atsushi Sakima voiced his appreciation, saying, “It is very significant.” U.S. military forces will allow Okinawan citizens to pass through the bases only on foot for evacuation purposes due to concerns over traffic congestion and accidents but the municipal governments intend to request to the U.S. military that they allow vehicles to pass through the bases, and let Okinawan people take refuge on the bases.

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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