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Regarding a CH-53 dropping an object (Protest)

Lieutenant General H. Stacy Clardy, III
Commanding General
III Marine Expeditionary Force

Regarding a CH-53 dropping an object (Protest)

We were informed that a CH-53 helicopter of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing became unstable when transporting an object slung externally to a military training range on February 25th, and intentionally released the object into the waters approximately 1,300 meters west of Torii Communication Station.

Regarding the U.S. military aircraft, a MH-60 crashed on January 25th, and an F/A-18 fighter attack aircraft dropped a refueling cover on February 12th. There has been three aircraft related accidents in less than a month. We cannot help but question the effectiveness of the safety management and the preventive measures placed by the U.S.Forces.

No damages to the residents of Okinawa nor their properties have been reported regarding this accident and we have been informed that the structure contained no hazardous or dangerous chemicals nor materials. However the point where the object was dropped is close to the land where fishing boats go by. Further, there are permanent fishing nets set for fisheries and shark whale scuba diving. It is truly regrettable since a slight mistake could have caused damages to the residents and their properties.

Furthermore, the U.S. Forces conducted a similar flight on February 27th, without any explanations provided to the OPG or the relevant municipalities, despite the fact that the U.S. Forces had said in the statement “Pending the outcome of that review, any further external transport of these structures has been suspended.” This is a disregard for the local people of Okinawa and absolutely unacceptable.

The Okinawa Prefectural Government strongly protests against the accident and the resumption of external transport of objects. We firmly call on the U.S. Forces to conduct a thorough investigation into the cause, implement effective preventive measures and place extensive safety management system in order to prevent recurrence of such accident. We also strongly request the U.S. Forces to provide a detailed explanation of the cause of the accident to the relevant municipalities and the OPG, and terminate external lifting training and any similar activities in Yomitan Village.

Denny Tamaki
Governor of Okinawa Prefecture

Note: This document has been translated from the Japanese original for reference purposes only. In the event of any discrepancy between this translated document and the Japanese original, the original shall prevail.