US Marine Helicopter In Okinawa Loses Windshield Over School

CH-53 transport helicopter

US Marine Helicopter In Okinawa Loses Windshield Over School

An American military helicopter's window has fallen onto the sports field of a primary school on the Japanese island of Okinawa, infuriating the locals about the heavy USA presence.

About 50 children were outside the school next to the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma at the time.

Residents complain about what they see as the unfair burden they carry in supporting the USA military presence in Japan.

Just last week, a plastic part thought to belong to a US military aircraft landed on the roof of a local day care, leading to demonstrations in front of USA military facilities. American military officials in turn claimed that it was allegedly the United States heavy transport helicopter CH-53.

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An investigation of the cause of this incident is underway in close coordination with local authorities, according to a media report, citing Marine officials as saying, in a statement.

One elementary school student was just five meters away from the object when it crashed to the ground, city assembly members who visited the site said. The school is 300 meters from the base.

A window fell out of a United States helicopter and landed in a school sports ground in southern Japan in an incident likely to fuel tensions between military and residents.

NHK cited eyewitnesses as saying that "a United States military helicopter was flying over the school at the time".

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The Defense Ministry's Okinawa Defense Bureau said the windshield was from a CH-53 helicopter. "I want people on the mainland to think of this as their problem".

The latest incident is nearly sure to embolden Okinawa's small but potent protest movement, which is backed by popular support and Onaga, and lead to renewed protests of both US military aircraft and plans to relocate Marine air operations within the prefecture, from Futenma to Schwab in Okinawa's remote north.

Under the plan, the Futenma base is expected to be moved from a densely populated area of Ginowan to the less populated Henoko coastal district of Nago.

The incident is the latest in a string of mishaps involving US military aircraft on the southern island prefecture.

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The commanding general of Marine Corps installations in the Pacific said all CH-53E choppers at the Futenma base have been grounded for safety checks.

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