NAHA, Okinawa Pref. – Okinawa Gov. Keiichi Inamine again urged the United States on Saturday to suspend all military flights at the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture.
“I strongly request the suspension of all flights until we can confirm the introduction of measures that can effectively prevent a recurrence” of accidents, Inamine told Lt. Gen. Robert Blackman, Okinawa area coordinator for the U.S. military, referring to the crash of a helicopter from the air station on Aug. 13 at a local university campus.
The governor met with Blackman at the prefectural government office.
On Friday, U.S. military helicopters flew out of the Futenma base for the first time since the crash.
During the meeting, Blackman apologized for the accident, but added that “the requirement to fly was operationally driven.”
“Each of the helicopters was thoroughly checked to make sure it was safe for flight,” he added.
Inamine also requested the U.S. military release the outcome of its investigation into the cause of the accident, but Blackman did not respond.
Earlier in the day, the governor visited Okinawa International University, the site of the crash, for the first time since the accident. He vowed to help repair the damage and ease anxieties among local residents.
Helicopter flights “are dangerous and cause significant psychological pressure,” he said during talks with Tomoaki Toguchi, the university’s president, and other university officials.
The officials said they have become worried since the accident, apparently voicing concerns that similar incidents may occur.
Inamine was on an official trip abroad when the CH-53D transport helicopter from the air station crashed into a university building.
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