NAHA, OKINAWA PREF. – The U.S. Marine Corps flew helicopters over an elementary school next to a U.S. air base in Okinawa on Thursday, though it promised Japan it would try to avoid such flights after ‘A window from a CH-53E helicopter fell on the school grounds last month.
Japan’s Defense Ministry noticed three helicopters flying over Futenma No.2 Elementary School in the afternoon, prompting it to protest to the US military. The students were on the playground shortly before the flights and participating in an evacuation drill in response to the falling window incident on December 13.
“It is deplorable that this has happened even though we have asked firmly that the United States does not fly over school,” Cabinet Secretary General Yoshihide Suga said at a conference. press in Tokyo.
According to the local ministry office, two AH-1 attack helicopters and a UH-1 multi-purpose helicopter were noticed by security cameras and office officials, who were sent to the school after the December incident. to monitor any US military aircraft flying over the school. .
The school board in Ginowan, the town where the United States Marine Corps airbase is located in Futenma, called the situation “scandalous” and urged the United States military to “keep its promise” to avoid as much as possible to fly over the school.
Local concerns have grown over continuing crashes and incidents involving US planes in the prefecture, which is home to most of the US military in Japan.
No one was injured in the incident involving the CH-53E, which was stationed at Futenma base, but residents were shocked when the window, weighing 7.7 kilograms, landed just a dozen meters away. the place where more than 50 children attended physical education classes.
The United States Marine Corps in Okinawa resumed CH-53E flights less than a week after the incident. But he said he asked the entire crew on the plane to take off and land at Futenma base to avoid flying over schools to “as much as possible,” the ministry said.
The elementary school has not used the playground for lessons since the incident.
During Thursday’s exercise, students were evacuated from the playground to school buildings, at the request of teachers and officials from the Okinawa Defense Office monitoring aircraft movements.
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