U.S. bases in Okinawa allow disaster access


The city of Ginowan and the town of Chatan in Okinawa Prefecture signed a pact Monday with the U.S. military that allows local citizens to evacuate to the Futenma base and other U.S. installations in the event of a natural disaster.

This is the first such pact in Okinawa, according to officials in Ginowan, which hosts the contentious U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.

It is the second time local Japanese authorities anywhere and the U.S. military have concluded an accord on the use of a military site for civilian evacuations.

During a ceremony at Camp Foster, Maj. Gen. Peter Talleri, commanding general for Marine Corps Installations Pacific, said the U.S. military wants to win the trust of and build friendly relations with the people of Okinawa.

The ceremony was attended by Ginowan Mayor Atsushi Sakima and Chatan Mayor Masaharu Noguni. It was followed by a tsunami drill involving around 60 people, who staged an evacuation to an upland area via Camp Foster, which straddles Ginowan, Chatan and other municipalities.

In Ginowan and Chatan, both located on the west coast of Okinawa Island, there have been concerns that residents near the coast may face difficulties evacuating to inland areas because of the U.S. military facilities.

The Japanese and U.S. governments agreed in 2007 to allow Japanese citizens to enter U.S. military facilities in times of disasters.

Intruder interrogation

NAHA, Okinawa Pref.

Okinawa police said Monday they will question a U.S. Air Force airman who is suspected of breaking into an apartment in the village of Yomitan and hitting a teenage boy after drinking last Friday.

The police will question the 24-year-old serviceman outside of the U.S. Air Force’s Kadena base, where he is stationed, they said.

The airman left a U.S. military hospital in the town of Chatan on Sunday. He was injured when he apparently jumped out of a window of the apartment, which is on the third floor of a building whose first floor houses a pub where he had been drinking.

The airman broke into the apartment around 1 a.m. Friday and struck the 13-year-old junior high school boy in the face, according to the police.

They said they will seize the clothes the serviceman was wearing at the time of the incident to substantiate their case against him.

The airman entered the pub around 8 p.m. Thursday and stayed there drinking until around midnight, the police said.

U.S. military personnel in Japan are under a 11 p.m.-5 a.m. curfew that took effect Oct. 19 following the alleged rape of a woman in the city of Okinawa by two U.S. Navy sailors earlier in the month.