Parachute dropped by U.S. soldier lands on farm 50 meters from house in Ie, residents claim military “Does whatever they want”


April 5, 2018 Ryukyu Shimpo


It was learned on April 4 that during parachute training conducted by U.S. soldiers on April 3 at Ie Jima Auxiliary Airfield in Ie, Okinawa, a parachute was dropped outside of the designated area. The parachute landed about 50 meters from a residence on nearby farmland. It has not been confirmed if this resulted in any damage.


Since parachute training was moved to Ie Jima in 1996 as part of the Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO), there have been countless incidents of personnel and materials landing outside of the target drop-zone, and have come very close to potentially causing serious damage. Area residents have been voicing opposition to the situation, saying, “We have protested many times, but the U.S. military does whatever they want without hearing our voices.”


At the time of the incident, eight U.S. Army soldiers were conducting parachute training, jumping from a C-130 from an elevation of 10,000 ft. (about 3 km). According to the village of Ie, the incident happened around 6:20 p.m. One of the soldier’s parachutes would not open and was cut free, and dropped to the farm below. The soldier landed within the target drop-zone using their backup parachute, and was not injured.


The dropped parachute landed about 150 meters from the airfield’s fence, and about 200 meters from “Unity Dojo,” which has become the hub of the island’s anti-military resistance movement. At around 6:30 p.m. on April 3, the village received word of the incident from the local U.S. Military relations director. The parachute had already been collected by the military, so the size and weight is unknown. The village has said that, “There was no damage.”


In November of last year, there was also an incident where two U.S. soldiers went over the fence while doing parachute training at Ie Jima, and landed about 350 meters from a house on farmland. Yoshihisa Heizan, chief administrator of Maja Ward, which neighbors the Ie Jima Auxiliary Airfield, angrily stated, “There have been incidents like this more times than I can count, so every time there is and exercise we watch the skies. Who knows when someone is going to land on one of our heads?”


The Okinawa Defense Bureau (ODB), who were contacted by Ie Village, reported the dropped parachute at around 10:00 p.m. on April 3 to the Okinawa Prefectural government. Upon hearing the news, base policy director Norikazu Kinjo phoned the ODB on April 4, demanding, “This is an accident that makes area residents uneasy. Approach the U.S. military to ensure that they are taking every possible measure to not worry or put at risk local residents.”


Meanwhile, the ODB told Ryukyu Shimpo reporters, “We have confirmed that no residents were in the area at the time of the incident. We are inquiring with the U.S. military about the situation.”


(English translation by T&CT and Sam Grieb)


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