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U.S. conducts parachute drill at Okinawa base, defying Japan's call to honor 1996 deal

JIJI

The U.S. military conducted parachute training at its Kadena Air Base in Okinawa Prefecture on Tuesday despite the Japanese government’s call for the exercise to be canceled.

The parachute training, which was carried out from 6:40 p.m., was the fourth of its kind at the base this year.

An agreement reached by the Japanese and U.S. governments in 1996 calls for the U.S. military to hold, in principle, parachute training at the U.S. Marine Corps’ auxiliary airfield in the island village of Ie in the prefecture.

Many Okinawa people have called on the U.S. military to stop conducting the parachute drills, as a local girl was killed in 1965 in Yomitan after being crushed under a U.S. military trailer that was released from an aircraft.

Defense Minister Taro Kono had asked the U.S. side to cancel Tuesday’s drill, saying that it would go against their agreement.

On Tuesday night, Kono told reporters that the U.S. side had failed to provide a sufficient explanation about the drill. “This was an extremely regrettable development that may affect the Japan-U.S. alliance,” he said.

He apologized to the people of Okinawa and indicated that he will ask U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper for talks on the matter.

Earlier on Tuesday, the U.S. military also conducted parachute training at the airfield in Ie.

Two U.S. troops accidentally landed outside of the airfield area. According to the Ie village government, one of them landed at an airport some 1.5 kilometers from the airfield and the other on nearby private land. No one was injured in the incident.

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