NAHA, OKINAWA PREF. – The U.S. military on Wednesday conducted a nighttime parachuting drill at Kadena Air Base on Okinawa’s main island for the second time in just over two weeks despite local opposition and a request from the Japanese defense bureau to suspend it.
According to the defense bureau in Okinawa, the U.S. military held the drill at the base due to unfavorable weather around the originally planned site at Iejima Island airfield, a far less populated area in the prefecture.
The drill, involving more than 10 servicemen parachuting to the base from an aircraft at night, is likely to further fuel opposition to U.S. activities from residents in Okinawa, which hosts a bulk of U.S. military facilities in Japan.
It also comes amid a prolonged battle between the Okinawa Prefectural Government and the central government over a contentious plan to move a different U.S. base within the prefecture.
On April 24, the U.S. military conducted a similar drill at the Kadena base, again because of poor weather at Iejima airfield.
It previously conducted parachute training at the former Yomitan airfield, which is close to residential areas, but safety concerns among the villagers prompted the Japanese and U.S. governments to move the drill to an auxiliary airfield on Ie Island under a 1996 agreement.