Published: Mon, January 08, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

United States military helicopter makes emergency landing at Japan's Okinawa island

United States military helicopter makes emergency landing at Japan's Okinawa island

A US Marine Corps UH-1 helicopter made an emergency landing on the eastern coast of the small island of Ikeijima in Okinawa Prefecture, southern Japan, NHK broadcaster reported on Saturday.

Footage aired by public broadcaster NHK showed the UH-1 helicopter, which appeared intact, surrounded by U.S. servicemen and Japanese police on the sandy beach.

In December, a resolution demanding all US military flights over schools and hospitals be suspended was unanimously adopted by the Okinawa prefectural assembly.

"We are grateful that all crew members are unharmed, no one was hurt and no property was damaged", Marine 2nd Lt. Gregory Cronen told Stars and Stripes in a statement Sunday. The school in Ginowan city is right next to Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.

The Japanese Defense Ministry's local bureau chief Koichiro Nakajima told reporters after an inspection was conducted on the helicopter that safety would always be paramount.

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The U.S. maintains a major military presence in Okinawa.

Nakajima also met the head of the Ikei residents' association, who strongly protested over the incident.

The association said that if a US military aircraft were to fall on residential property, then the damage would be huge and lives could be lost. "If we lose lives, they will not return", Masanori Tamaki, 61, said, adding the USA military should change its flight path.

Located strategically at the edge of the East China Sea, Okinawa, which was under United States occupation until 1972, hosts some 30,000 military personnel living and working on bases that cover a fifth of the island.

The chopper apparently landed about 100 meters from a house, a local resident said.

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