“This is an outrageous situation. We cannot allow it.” Mayor of Kin and Igei Ward head protest the dropping of flares in rice fields

“This is an outrageous situation. We cannot allow it.” Mayor of Kin and Igei Ward head protest the dropping of flares in rice fields

Kin Mayor Hajime Nakama and Igei Ward Chief Hitoshi Yamazato answering reporters’ questions after delivering written demands to the Okinawa Defense Bureau in Kadena December 9.

December 10, 2019 Ryukyu Shimpo

Kin – After an incident where three mortar flares were dropped on private property such as rice paddies in the Igei ward of Kin, Kin mayor Hajime Nakama and Igei Ward chief Hitoshi Yamazato visited Kazunori Tanaka, head of the Okinawa Defense Bureau (ODB), to voice their objections and for each to deliver written demands.

The town demanded that military training and exercises be permanently cancelled, and the ward demanded that firing range 4 inside of Camp Hansen be shut down, and that firing practice in ranges 3-5 be immediately stopped.

According to the town of Kin, ODB head Tanaka apologized, and said that he would, “Ask the U.S. military to explain the cause, and to strongly ask that such an occurrence be prevented from reoccurring.”

Both the representatives from Kin and Igei gave objections such as, “These types of accidents happening in a residential area is extremely abnormal, and we are greatly angered.

This can absolutely not be allowed.” In the written demands, the statement from Igei ward asked that an investigation and public announcement for the effects flare ignition powder has on people and farmland, and that the number of rounds fired from the mortar firing training ground on December 5 be made public.

The statement from the town of Kin asked for a full accounting of the incident as well as the policy for preventing reoccurrence be made public, and until the prevention policy is thoroughly carried out, that all live fire training and exercises in Camp Hansen be stopped.

The representatives from both the town and ward said that when they asked about the effects of the flare powder, the ODB answered that the U.S. military, “explained that there were no effects.”

The town has collected some of the soil as well as the remains of the flare, and will conduct their own investigation.

Mayor Nakama said, “The ODB acknowledged the danger of the incident, and will work quickly to provide an explanation as well as a plan to prevent reoccurrence.”

A special committee of the Kin town council for the investigation and policies for U.S. military base issues will compose a resolution and written statement in calling for the cessation of live-fire training in Camp Hansen.

The town council looks to vote on the measures December 10.

(English translation by T&CT and Sam Grieb)

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