TOKYO – Japanese officials said a boy was wounded in Okinawa on Wednesday when a metal frame fell from a U.S. military helicopter, the second incident in the past week on the south island.
Officials of the city Vessel said the window fell off of a CH-53 transport helicopter and landed on a school playground, leaving a boy with a small arm injuries. About 50 children were outside the school, which is next to the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, at the moment.
Last week, a part of another US military helicopter fell on a nearby kindergarten roof, but nobody was injured.
“It is outrageous that this happened again,” Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga told reporters angrily. “Despite repeated accidents, the AMERICAN military officials would not like their ears to our concerns.”
Brig. Gen. Paul Rock, who is responsible for the Marine Corps installations in the Pacific region, said later Wednesday that all CH-53 helicopters at the Futenma base have been grounded for safety checks when he visited the prefectural government to offer an apology about the incident.
The base in a busy residential area in the city center of Okinawa is a source of anti-AMERICAN military sentiment, and concerns about the safety. The planned move, pushed by the Japanese and U.S. governments, has been delayed for more than 20 years, because many residents want all of Okinawa.
The latest incident is more likely to fuel resistance against the AMERICAN military presence on Okinawa, where about half of the 50,000 American troops in Japan are stationed and where the local residents have expressed concern about the military crime and safety.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga urged the U.S. military more attention to the safety and to do more to limit the impact on the local community.
A Marine Corps CH-53 helicopter made an emergency landing on a farm and burned in October. Another helicopter belonging to the Futenma base crashed into a nearby university in 2004, injuring three AMERICAN crew members.
Follow Mari Yamaguchi on Twitter twitter.com/mariyamaguchi
Find her work at https://www.apnews.com/search/mari%20yamaguchi