• Staff Report, Kyodo


Six people were injured when a U.S. military helicopter made a “hard deck landing” aboard a U.S. naval vessel off Camp Schwab in Okinawa Prefecture on Wednesday afternoon, the military said in a statement.

The aircraft was carrying 17 crew members, all of whom survived, the U.S. military said.

Among the injured were two Ground Self-Defense Force personnel who were aboard the chopper for training, the Defense Ministry said.

The helicopter, a U.S. Army H-60, also known as a Black Hawk, was on a training mission. It crashed at 1:46 p.m., the military said in a statement on Wednesday evening, adding that the damaged helicopter was on the deck of the USNS Red Cloud. The U.S. military and the Japan Coast Guard earlier dispatched airplanes and patrol ships to the area to search for survivors.

Meanwhile, Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga met with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga in Okinawa, and urged the central government to do its utmost to ease the prefecture’s burden from hosting many U.S. military bases.

“Grave incidents happen to people living near the bases,” said Onaga, referring to the helicopter crash.

The crash came as Okinawa and Tokyo are deadlocked over the planned relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to a proposed base in the Henoko area off Nago, which is also in the prefecture.

Although the central government has temporarily halted work related to the base relocation plan, no prospects are in sight for resolving its differences with Okinawa.

Onaga was elected last fall on a platform opposing the base relocation plan. He has been calling for the Futenma base to be relocated outside of the prefecture.

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