Marines should leave Okinawa after U.S. military helicopter goes up in flames in Takae


October 12, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo


A CH-53 transport helicopter belonging to U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma made an unplanned landing and then burst into flames on civilian land along route 70 in Higashi Village.

The nearest civilian homes were a mere 200 meters from the crash. One wrong move and the incident could have been a terrible tragedy.


In 2004, a helicopter of the same type as that which caused the recent accident crashed into Okinawa International University in Ginowan City.

Last December, less than one year ago, an MV-22 Osprey vertical takeoff and landing transport aircraft crashed in Abu, Nago City.


Flights of aircraft of the same type as that involved in the crash should be stopped until the cause of the accident is uncovered.

At the same time, the plan to build a new base to be used by U.S. Marine aircraft in Henoko, Nago City should be abandoned; use of the six helipads recently built in the U.S. military’s Northern Training Area should be prohibited; and the U.S. Marines, which continue to pose a threat to the lives and property of Okinawans, should leave Okinawa.


The place where the CH-53 helicopter went up in flames was a field near the Northern Training Area.

The Japanese and U.S. governments recently built six helipads positioned so as to surround the hamlet of Takae in Higashi Village as a condition for returning half of the land of the Northern Training Area.

During the construction, riot police were brought in from outside of Okinawa to forcefully suppress local residents protesting against the helipads.


At the ceremony last December to commemorate the return of half of the Northern Training Area, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga emphasized that “This land return is the largest land return since Okinawa was returned to Japan; it entails the return of roughly 20% of U.S. military facilities in Okinawa and contributes greatly to the reduction of burden on Okinawa.”


However, as a result of Suga’s alleged “reduction of burden,” aircraft noise around Takae has increased and is having a grave impact on the lives of the residents there.

Now, a helicopter has burst into flames nearby. This is the reality. The “reduction of burden” of which the Abe administration speaks is really nothing but a “reinforcement of burden.”


The U.S. Marines announced that in the current accident, a fire occurred in the aircraft while in flight and it made an emergency landing.

But looking at pictures and video of the incident, it is hard to call it an “emergency landing.

” This wording is reminiscent of the information manipulation of calling last year’s crash in Abu, Nago City an “emergency water landing.”

Article 25 of the Japanese Constitution states, “All people shall have the right to maintain the minimum standards of wholesome and cultured living.

” Article 13 sets forth environmental rights (the right to the pursuit of happiness), and the preamble sets forth the right to live a peaceful existence without suffering danger to life or health.


Yet these rights continue to be flagrantly violated in Okinawa, even after its return to Japanese administration.


In June 1959, a jet crashed over Miyamori Elementary School in Ishikawa City (now Uruma City) in central Okinawa Island, claiming 17 lives, many of them schoolchildren.

In 1968, a B-52 strategic bomber, an aircraft used to attack Vietnam, crashed after failing to land at Kadena Air Base.


According to statistics compiled by the Okinawa Prefectural Government, there have been 48 crashes by U.S. military aircraft (as of the end of 2016) since Okinawa’s return to Japan in 1972.

There is no other prefecture in Japan where U.S. military aircraft crash at a rate of roughly one per year.


The excessive burden imposed by the construction of a new base in Henoko will be a major point of dispute in the upcoming House of Representatives election. We hope voters will make a thoughtful choice.


(English translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)


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