February 2, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo
In light of a U.S. military helicopter making an emergency landing on an agricultural road in Uruma City, Yonashiro, Ikeijima, the Okinawa Defense Bureau (ODB) offered reparations to the Ikei neighborhood community association. On the first of the month, the neighborhood association denied the offer and made a call to protest.
Head of the association Masanori Tamashiro said to the press that accepting compensation means accepting continued U.S. base presence. He went on to say residents want to object, and push the U.S. military to no longer make flights in the sky above each island. The heads of Henza, Miyagi, and Hamahiga Islands’ neighborhood community associations coordinated with Ikeijima in the call to protest, requesting suspension of flights over these four islands.
In response, the ODB asserted that the US-Japan Status of Forces Agreement Article 18 sets forth the ways in which reparations are handled in regards to local governments and cultivators of agricultural land in the vicinity of landing sites.
Following the call to protest, Tamashiro criticized the military aircraft’s emergency landing and quick takeoff over a residential area afterward. He said: “It isn’t an issue of reparations. If the U.S. military bases weren’t here, such incidents would not occur.”
(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)