Okinawa assembly hits F-15 crash

Kyodo

The Okinawa Prefectural Assembly has unanimously passed a resolution protesting the crash of a U.S. Air Force F-15 fighter in the Pacific Ocean last month.

Members of the assembly visited the U.S. Kadena Air Base on Thursday and handed the resolution to Maj. Christopher Anderson, head of the Public Affairs Office of the 18th Wing.

“This recent incident has impacted those in the fisheries industry and the rest of the citizens in the prefecture with great concern and fear,” the resolution adopted Thursday says.

It urges the suspension of training using F-15s until the cause of the crash is determined and preventive measures for similar accidents are taken.

The F-15 out of Kadena crashed into the ocean about 60 km off the village of Kunigami in the northern part of Okinawa Island during a training flight May 28. The pilot ejected safely.

The crash site is surrounded by rich fishing grounds and “(the accident) could have directly affected fishermen operating in the area and triggered a terrible tragedy,” the resolution says.

It terms the U.S. military’s resumption of drills two days after the accident without determining the cause as “truly regrettable.”

The U.S. Air Force said it had conducted inspections on about 50 F-15s by a total of 2,000 personnel following the crash, according to assembly member Seiryo Arakaki. The U.S. military did not give any detailed explanation of the cause of the incident but said it will issue an investigation report in 30 to 90 days, Arakaki said.

The assembly also adopted a resolution protesting recent remarks by Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto urging U.S. forces to use Japan’s legal sex establishments to prevent the recurrence of sex offenses in Okinawa.

Hashimoto, who co-heads the right-leaning Nippon Ishin no Kai(Japan Restoration Party), told reporters in May he had asked a senior U.S. military officer based in Okinawa to let marines use local sex-related services, saying, “Otherwise, they cannot control the sexual energy of wild marines.”

Amid an outcry at home and abroad, he later retracted the comment and offered an apology.