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Letter of Protest from Governor Onaga to Lt. Gen. Nicholson with regard to Repeated Emergency Landings of U.S. Military Helicopters (English translation of the original Japanese document)

Lieutenant General Lawrence D. Nicholson
Commanding Officer
III Marine Expeditionary Force
United States Forces Japan

Re: Repeated Emergency Landings of U.S. Military Helicopters (Protest)

A UH-1 helicopter made an emergency landing in Ikei Island approximately at 4:00PM on January 6, 2018, and the other helicopter, AH-1, made a precautionary landing at Yomitan Village approximately at 4:45 PM on January 8, 2018, just two days after the previous accident.

Although no damage or injuries from the accidents have been confirmed, one misstep of aircraft-related accidents could result in a serious accident involving human lives and properties.

In addition, U.S. military aircraft, such as the ones belonging to MCAS Futenma, have been causing about 30 accidents including a crash landing, a forced landing into flames and emergency landings for the past one year, causing anxieties to grow unprecedentedly among the local residents who are forced to live next to the U.S. bases. It is extremely regrettable that the accidents fueled fears among Okinawan people over their peaceful daily livings and their lives. These cases continue to raise serious doubts and distrust concerning the aircraft maintenance and the safety management put in place by the U.S. military.

Following the accident where a part fell from CH-53E in December last year, the Okinawa Prefectural Government among other agencies called for aircraft maintenance and fundamental review of safety management. Therefore, we cannot contain our anger over such accidents that repeatedly took place in the situation where both Japanese and U.S. governments paid no attention to our requests.

We, the Okinawa Prefectural Government, protest the occurrence of the accidents and urge the U.S. military to make sure to conduct thorough examination that we have been requesting as such, and flight suspension of all aircrafts, aircraft maintenance and fundamental review of safety management.

Furthermore, we especially request flight suspension of UH-1s and AH-1s until the causes of the accidents are determined. We also demand a thorough investigation into the cause, prompt disclosure of the findings and implementation of effective preventive measures.

Takeshi Onaga
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.