• Kyodo


A window fell off a U.S. chopper Friday at the U.S. naval air base in Atsugi, Kanagawa Prefecture, but no one was injured, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said.

The incident at U.S. Naval Air Facility, Atsugi, follows a similar one in Okinawa in December, when a window from a U.S. chopper plummeted onto the playground of an elementary school, nearly hitting some kids.

“While no one was injured and it’s a case that happened inside a U.S. military base, a window falling is a serious problem,” Onodera told reporters.

Friday’s accident took place at around 11:50 a.m.

The Maritime Self-Defense Force, which jointly uses the Atsugi base with the U.S. military, noticed the part falling shortly after the helicopter took off, Onodera said. The U.S. military confirmed that it was a window, he said.

The helicopter does not belong to the Atsugi base and the Defense Ministry is getting details on the aircraft from the U.S. side.

Kanagawa Gov. Yuji Kuroiwa told reporters in Tokyo that he was “very shocked about the frequency of accidents involving the U.S. military.”

The Defense Ministry has called on U.S. military forces in Japan to provide more information on incidents and take measures to prevent them from recurring.

In December, a 7.7-kg window fell off a CH-53E transport helicopter as it was flying over an elementary school just outside U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.

No one was injured, but the incident heightened concerns among people in Okinawa, which hosts the bulk of the U.S. military facilities in Japan.

Last month, a U.S. F-15 fighter jet crashed into the sea off Okinawa. The pilot was picked up by a search-and-rescue team from the Air Self-Defense Force.

In February, a Ground Self-Defense Force AH-64 attack helicopter crashed near a kindergarten and an elementary school in Kanzaki, Saga Prefecture, killing the two crew members, setting a house on fire and injuring a girl.

In April 2016, an ASDF U-125 jet crashed on Mount Takakuma in Kagoshima Prefecture, killing all six crew members.

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