Higashi Village Assembly demands nearby U.S. military helipads be removed, claiming, “The training are increasing, and residents live in fear”


June 21, 2018 Ryukyu Shimpo


Higashi Village – The Higashi Village assembly in Okinawa (Toshiyuki Awa, Chairman) unanimously passed on June 20 a position statement and resolution demanding the immediate removal of two helipads in the N4 sector of the U.S. military’s Northern Training Area (NTA), which is located in Higashi.

In addition to the continued accidents involving U.S. military helicopters, the increase in helicopter training near the village has increased the sound damage experienced by village residents.

The village assembly passed a resolution in 2015 banning the use of the N4 helipad, however this is the first time they have demanded outright removal.

They also requested the cancelation of Osprey flights, as well as a fundamental revising of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA).


In July of 2014, two new helipads were constructed in sector N4, about 400 meters from a residential area in Takae.

Operations began in February of 2015, and was used as the takeoff and landing point for U.S. aircraft including the MV-22 Osprey.


Since February of 2017, the village assembly has been conducting a survey in the Takae district.

Based on the results of this survey, the resolution explains, “The aircraft often flies over private land, and bombards residents with thunderous noise.

This has been a daily torment for village residents. It is also evident that the training flights out of the N4 helipads are increasing.”


Additionally, it claims that the N4 district, “creates a situation in which residents live next door to danger. With the noise and low frequencies emanating from the Ospreys at takeoff, never knowing when the fuselage or parts of the helicopter will fall off, the residents live trembling in fear, increasing their torment.”


The resolution also touched on the accidents involving U.S. military aircraft, which has been piling up.

They identified the crash landing and fire of a CH-53E transport helicopter on private land in Takae in October of 2017, as well as the crash landings of MV-22 Ospreys in Nago City and in Australia, and also noted the numerous incidents of emergency landings and falling parts that occur both in Okinawa and elsewhere.


“Simply put, the aircraft being flown are faulty, and it plain to see that the U.S. military are negligent and arrogant with regards to their equipment maintenance,” the resolution harshly criticizes.


The resolution was sent to the U.S. Ambassador to Japan and the Okinawa Area Coordinator (OAC), and the position statement was sent to the prime minister and others.


Mayor Seikyu Iju, who accepted the construction of the helipad in the NTA, said in an interview with the Ryukyu Shimpo, “I am not in a position to comment on the resolution of the assembly.”

In 2017 after the crash of the CH-53E helicopter, Mayor Iju did demand that operations at the N4 helipads be stopped.


(English translation by T&CT and Sam Grieb)


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