14 June 2017

News Report: Tokyo Regrets US Plans to Hold Parachute Drills on Okinawa – Defense Minister

Japan regret’s US plans to hold parachute drills at the Kadena Air Base in Okinawa.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Japan’s Defense Minister Tomomi Inada has expressed regret that the US military intends to hold on Wednesday parachute drills at the Kadena Air Base in Okinawa despite Tokyo’s pleas to cancel the exercises.

"If the drills are held, that would be three months in a row. It is very regrettable," the minister was quoted as saying by the Jiji agency.

In 1996, Japan and the United States agreed that the US forces would conduct parachute drills only on the Iejima Island off the coast of Okinawa, a more reclusive location than the Kadena Air Base which is on the Okinawa itself. However, on Monday, the Japanese Defense Ministry received notice from the US forces that the drills would be held at Kadena due to weather conditions.

The United States held parachute drills on Kadena Base in April and May, provoking negative reactions from the local government and citizens due to a high number of US military personnel crimes, as well as accidents, which took place during previous exercises.

In particular, the local residents still remember the accident occurred in 1965, when a schoolgirl was crushed by a trailer that had been parachuted down to one of the island’s villages during the US drills.

Tokyo and Washington have close ties in military and technical cooperation. The United States have a military contingent of about 54,000 servicemen deployed in the Asian country, within the framework of the US-Japan security treaty signed in 1951.

According to the Okinawa Prefecture’s data, there are over 25,000 US servicemen and 19,000 members of their families and US civilians on the island. Some 70 percent of all US military objects in Japan located on the Okinawa, while the island only makes up 1 percent of the country’s territory.

This story first appeared on Sputnik & is reposted here with permission.