Victims Remembered 60 Years after U.S. Fighter Crash in Okinawa


Uruma, Okinawa Pref., June 30 (Jiji Press)--A memorial service was held on Sunday for 18 civilians killed in the crash exactly 60 years ago of a U.S. fighter jet into an elementary school in the city of Uruma in the southernmost Japan prefecture of Okinawa.

The ceremony took place at Miyamori Elementary School, where the fighter from the U.S. military's Kadena Air base in Okinawa crashed on June 30, 1959. Bereaved relatives and other participants offered silent prayers for the victims, including students at the municipally run school.

"The tragic incident happened" due to the existence of U.S. military bases in Okinawa, Yoshimori Uema, 76, whose younger brother, then a third-grader, was killed in the accident, said at the ceremony, representing bereaved relatives.

Referring to the planned relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma air station in the city of Ginowan, Okinawa, to the Henoko coastal district in Nago, another city in the prefecture, Uema warned that a serious accident "could happen again if the new U.S. base is constructed" in the district.

Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki, a staunch opponent of the planned base relocation within the prefecture, said, "I'll make utmost efforts to achieve the consolidation of U.S. bases in Okinawa at an early time so that an incident as tragic as the fighter crash 60 years ago will never happen again."

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Jiji Press