Okinawa boy injured after window falls off Marine chopper

A fallen window frame of US military aircraft is seen on the ground at an elementary school in Ginowan Okinawa
Credit
Okinawa Times  Kyodo News via AP

Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga shows a picture of a window that fell from a US helicopter onto a school sports field in front of the Futenma Daini Elementary School in Ginowan, Okinawa prefecture, Japan in this photo taken by Kyodo on December 13, 2017. One boy has minor injuries from particles that have leapt from the ground. There was no damage to school buildings. The incident had sparked huge anti-U.S. military demonstrations, with Okinawa residents reminded of a similar incident in 1995, when three U.S. Marines rented a van, kidnapped and raped a 12-year-old girl.

William Perry, who was the US defense secretary when Tokyo and Washington reached an agreement in 1996 on the return of land occupied by the Futenma base to Japan, recently said to the effect that maintaining USA bases in Okinawa is not necessarily vital for US deterrence.

Condemnation came swiftly from Okinawa's anti-base Gov. Takeshi Onaga. " the demonstrators chanted, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported. It has been repeated over and over again and I don't have the words to describe my feelings". The aircraft immediately returned to MCAS Futenma and reported the incident. "These [incidents] happen because there are bases [here] and Okinawan people are exposed to [this] danger".

The Marines were also investigating another incident that occurred on December 7, when an object may have fallen from a US helicopter flying from the Futenma air base onto the roof of an Okinawa preschool while children were playing outside.

The small island accommodates half of all United States military personnel stationed in Japan, but their record of accidents and crimes in Okinawa has sparked fierce opposition to their continued presence.

In October, a 1st Marine Aircraft Wing Super Stallion made an emergency landing in a farmer's field outside Okinawa's Northern Training Area after an inflight fire.

"We think this kind of incident stirs concerns among the people in Okinawa", Japanese Minister of Defense Itsunori Onodera said last week, quoted by Kyodo.

In July, Okinawa officials filed a lawsuit against Tokyo demanding a halt to construction work for the relocation of the Marine Corps' Futenma base, claiming that the development would damage seabed rock, which would harm local fishing grounds.

Anti-U.S. sentiment has been rising on the subtropical island amid rising instances of U.S. base-linked crimes, noise, pollution and military accidents.

Coupled with crimes perpetrated by American servicemembers in recent years, the incidents have fomented unrest and have been impossible for Japanese and USA officials to ignore.

Just a year ago, a U.S. Marines' Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft crash-landed off the coast of Nago, a city in the prefecture, during a night air-to-air refueling drill.

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