Jiji PressNAHA (Jiji Press) — A U.S. military helicopter made an emergency landing on a waste disposal site in the village of Yomitan, Okinawa Prefecture, around 4:45 p.m. on Monday.
The incident did not cause injury to the two crew members of the AH-1 attack helicopter of the Marine Corps or local residents, according to sources including the Okinawa prefectural police. The emergency landing site is close to a resort hotel.
The helicopter belongs to the Marines’ Futenma Air Station in the Okinawa city of Ginowan.
Around 4:50 p.m., the local police received a report saying that a U.S. military helicopter made an emergency landing.
According to government officials, the helicopter is believed to have made a preventive landing following a warning indicating a mechanical problem. The U.S. military is conducting a detailed investigation of the aircraft.
The incident came only two days after a UH-1 helicopter deployed at the Futenma base made an emergency landing on a beach in Ikeijima, an island in Uruma, Okinawa Prefecture, on Saturday. The chopper was removed from the emergency landing site and transported to a U.S. naval facility in the same city on Monday morning.
The series of incidents will likely further heighten concerns and anger among local residents.
In January last year, an AH-1 helicopter made an emergency landing on a farm road in Ikeijima because of a mechanical glitch.
“Extremely abnormal things are happening in Okinawa,” Yomitan Mayor Denjitsu Ishimine told reporters after inspecting Monday’s emergency landing site.
He demanded that all U.S. military planes be grounded until the cause of the incident is determined.
Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters, “Too many incidents [involving U.S. military aircraft] have occurred,” adding, “It’s natural for residents in Okinawa to worry about the situation.”
The Defense Ministry has called on Lt. Gen. Jerry Martinez, commander of the U.S. forces in Japan, and other U.S. military officials to provide detailed information about the emergency landing to the Japanese side and put effective preventive measures into place, according to Onodera.
In talks with reporters in the Okinawa city of Nago the same day, Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga criticized the U.S. side, saying that no improvement has been made in the situation although many incidents involving the U.S. military had happened.Speech