Zamami mayor and Gov. Tamaki oppose Defense Minister’s acquiescence: “It’s a joke,” “Revise SOFA”

Zamami mayor and Gov. Tamaki oppose Defense Minister’s acquiescence: “It’s a joke,” “Revise SOFA”

U.S. military aircraft flying over Tokashiki Port at low altitudes around 2 p.m. on January 6.

January 9, 2021 Ryukyu Shimpo

In the latest issue of U.S. military aircraft repeatedly flying at low altitudes around Kerama Islands, Japan’s Ministry of Defense and the Foreign Minister indicated their approval of the U.S. military training outside of the training area. In response, the mayors of Zamami and Tokashiki Villages objected during an interview with this newspaper on January 8, stating, “We ask [the military to] stop training inside our residential areas.”

Satoru Miyazato, mayor of Zamami Village, said, “Military training in residential areas—it has got to be a joke. We are grateful for the Minister’s prompt request to the U.S. in addressing this matter. Still, if the situation persists and people are left worried, we will push back to provide our residents with safe and secure living conditions.” Hidekatsu Zamami, mayor of Tokashiki Village, said, “Obviously, we would like the training in our residential areas to discontinue. If it persists, we will engage the appropriate authorities to block the drills from taking place in spheres of human habitation.”

“The Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement needs to be revised,” says Gov. Denny Tamaki

When asked at a press conference on January 8 about his views on the issue of low-flying U.S. military aircraft around the Kerama Islands, Governor Denny Tamaki replied, “To protect the safety and security of the people of Okinawa, the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement needs to be revised, which I will continue to demand.” He emphasized, “We can robustly regulate the airspace privileges granted to the U.S. military by applying domestic laws.”

The Okinawa Prefectural Government is currently considering requesting the U.S. military and the Japanese government to discontinue the low-altitude flights. On January 7, it received confirmation from the Defense Bureau that the U.S. military did conduct the exercise in question. The prefecture is asking for more details, including the purpose of the drills.

(English translation by T&CT and Monica Shingaki)

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