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U.S. military not allowing Okinawa government to enter site of Takae helicopter fire to conduct radiation test

U.S. military not allowing Okinawa government to enter site of Takae helicopter fire to conduct radiation test

 

October 13, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo

 

In the wake of the recent U.S. military helicopter fire, Governor Takeshi Onaga paid a visit to the accident site in the Takae district of Higashi Village just after noon on October 12.

October 13, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo

 

In the wake of the recent U.S. military helicopter fire, Governor Takeshi Onaga paid a visit to the accident site in the Takae district of Higashi Village just after noon on October 12.

After observing the accident site, Onaga expressed his indignation to reporters, stating, “I am sad, frustrated, and angry.

” He also stressed that in regard to the military accidents which continue to occur despite protests from the Okinawa government, “This is a national disaster in that [the situation] is being forced upon Okinawa by the central Japanese government.”

 

In order to conduct a survey to see if radioactive or other hazardous materials are present at the site of the accident, the Okinawan Environmental Bureau requested entrance into the accident site, however it seems the request has not been granted.

As of 6:00 p.m. October 12, the survey has not been allowed to happen.

In 2004, there was also a helicopter crash at Okinawa International University, after which the Japanese and U.S. governments established guidelines for when a military vehicle crashes or makes an emergency landing outside of a U.S. military facility or designated area.

Okinawa requested the investigation in accordance with these guidelines, but it appears no such investigation is in sight.

 

Governor Takeshi indicated that with regards to Okinawa Police not being able to conduct an investigation due to the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), “The Japanese government has no say in the Japan-U.S. Joint Commission.

They can only ask to ‘Please make sure this does not happen again.’ It is about as effective as trying to nail down tofu.”

 

On the day of the accident, Higashi Village Mayor Morihisa Izu was unable to approach the site, but observed the wreckage from about 50 meters away at 9:00 a.m. the next morning, October 12. Izu was critical of the accident, saying, “Something that should never happen has occurred.” The site was also visited by the eight members of the village council (led by Toshiyuki Awa).

 

Shortly after returning to his office around 11 a.m., Mayor Ishu received a phone call from Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, who expressed his apologies.

Ishu also said that Onodera explained, “Training exercises have been cancelled until we can determine the cause of the accident.”

 

(English translation by T&CT and Sam Grieb)

 

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