US Marine Helicopter In Okinawa Loses Windshield Over School

US Troops Implicated in at Least Half Dozen Incidents in Okinawa Since 2016

A window of a US military transport helicopter fell from the aircraft and onto the grounds of an elementary school in Okinawa Prefecture on Wednesday, injuring one student and sparking a harsh backlash from local officials.

Prefectural authorities said they were notified by the US forces in Okinawa that a window had fallen from a CH-53E transport helicopter.

The window hit the ground at about 10:10 Futenma Daini Elementary School, which is next to the fence line on the northern side of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, said officials from the Okinawa Prefectural Board of Education and the Marine Corps.

Okinawa, the southernmost region of Japan, hosts the majority of the 38,000 U.S. troop stationed in the country, with the region widely viewed as a strategic launchpad for American military activity across Asia.

Last week, a part of another United States military helicopter fell on a nearby kindergarten roof, but no-one was hurt.

The item measured 1 meter square.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press briefing in Tokyo that the incident "stirs concerns among the people of the island prefecture".

"I was so surprised that I trembled", said Erina Nakama, a 54-year-old principal of a nursery school about 100 meters away.

The U.S. Marine Corps has admitted the object was part of a CH-53 helicopter but denied that it fell off during flight. "Despite repeated accidents, US military officials would not lend their ears to our concerns".

The Japanese and US Governments have been pushing to relocate the Futenma base from a densely populated area of Ginowan to the less populated Henoko coastal district of Nago, also in Okinawa. "These [incidents] happen because there are bases [here] and Okinawan people are exposed to [this] danger".

Its planned relocation, pushed by the Japanese and US governments, has been delayed for more than 20 years because many residents want it entirely off of Okinawa.

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