Okinawa University Worried over U.S. Base on Chopper Crash Anniv.

Society

Ginowan, Okinawa Pref., Aug. 13 (Jiji Press)--About 130 staff and students of Okinawa International University reiterated their concerns over the adjacent U.S. Futenma air base, at a gathering on Monday to mark the 14th anniversary of the crash of a U.S. military helicopter at its campus.

"We must not let memories of the disaster fade away," Eiken Maetsu, 62, president of the university in the city of Ginowan in the southernmost Japan prefecture of Okinawa, said, urging the Japanese and U.S. governments to close the Marine Corps base and remove related equipment immediately.

The meeting was held near a tree that was burned in the accident.

On Aug. 13, 2004, a CH-53 transport helicopter of the Marine Corps that belonged to the Futenma base in Ginowan crashed into a building of the university and burst into flames. No civilians were injured in the accident, while three U.S. Marines suffered wounds. No one was killed.

Ahead of Monday's gathering, the participants observed a moment of silence for the late Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga, who worked to reduce the prefecture's burden of hosting the bulk of U.S. military bases in Japan. Onaga died of cancer at the age of 67 on Wednesday.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Okinawa Jiji Press