Okinawa Prefectural Fisheries Cooperative leaders protest U.S. military helicopter crash

Okinawa Prefectural Fisheries Cooperative leaders protest U.S. military helicopter crash

A special meeting of the prefectural assembly unanimously passed the statement and resolution of protest against the U.S. military helicopter crash off the coast of Uruma on August 19.

August 20, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo

On August 12, a U.S. Army Special Operations MH-60M Black Hawk helicopter crashed on a U.S. Navy cargo vessel off the shore of Uruma City. In response, on August18, the presidents of 36 regional fisheries cooperatives making up the Okinawa Prefectural Fisheries Cooperative Presidents’ Association unanimously adopted a protest resolution demanding thorough measures toward preventing future incidents. At a general meeting held at Okinawa Fisheries Assembly Hall in Naha the same day, the president of Yonashiro Fisheries Cooperative proposed an urgent motion to address the resolution.

The resolution identifies issues with the crash site, such as its close proximity to a great number of payaos (artificial floating reefs where fish congregate), and a preferred fishing spot, which hosts the highest level of mozuku seaweed cultivation in Okinawa. It also points out that if similar incidents occur during fishing operations, the U.S. military runs the risk of aircraft crashing onto fishermen’s boats. With this resolution, the presidents’ association is calling for the Ministry of Defense and the Okinawa Defense Bureau (ODB) to put pressure on the U.S. military to prevent future accidents around Uruma.

Officials of the presidents’ association working for the prefectural fisheries cooperative intend to jointly sign the resolution, which could be written up and submitted to the ODB by the end of this month.

Kameichi Uehara, the president of the Okinawa Prefectural Fisheries Cooperative, said that the crash site was outside of the sea area provided for U.S. military training grounds, so the accident should not have occurred at all. Furthermore, he said that it is the duty of the Government of Japan to urge the U.S. military to prevent future incidents.

(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)

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