December 27, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo
On the morning of December 27, the presidents of nine higher education institutions in Okinawa submitted a written statement to the Japanese and U.S. governments in response to the recent crash accident of a U.S. MV-22 Osprey vertical takeoff and landing aircraft on the shore in Abu, Nago, and the belly-landing of an Osprey at Futenma Air Station. The statement demands that the types of U.S. military aircraft that have caused accidents within Japan, including Osprey, be suspended from flying over Okinawan land, among other things. Copies of the statement were sent to Japan’s prime minister and minister of defense, and to the U.S. president and secretary of state.
The presidents of the University of the Ryukyus, Okinawa Christian University, Meio University, Okinawa International University, Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts, Okinawa University, Okinawa Prefectural College of Nursing, Okinawa Women’s Junior College, and Okinawa National College of Technology jointly signed the statement. This statement points out that, “As can be seen in Okinawa Area Coordinator Nicholson’s arrogant comments, the root of the problem lies in the fact that the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) allows the U.S. military to freely use bases in Okinawa.” In addition to the suspension of flights, the statement is calling for investigations into the causes of the two serious incidents, preventative measures for such occasions, the suspension of Osprey training using the helipads in the Northern Training Area, and revision of the U.S.-Japan SOFA.
President of the University of the Ryukyus Hajime Oshiro, president of Okinawa Christian University Hiroshi Tomori, president of the Prefectural University of Arts Yasuharu Higa, president of Okinawa University Hiroshi Nakachi, and president of the Prefectural University of Nursing Eiko Kadekaru gave an interview at the correspondents’ club at the Okinawa Prefectural Government Office on the same morning as the submission of the written statement. Tomori said that there is a problem with the Japanese government’s stance since accidents repeatedly occur. He emphasized that their written statement is, in other words, a declaration of protest. Nakachi said, “For the safety of students, universities, Okinawan residents and regions, we must, as people of higher education, make our voices heard.”
(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)