Onodera, Okinawa deputy governor criticize U.S. forces for resuming CH-53 helicopter flights soon after accident

The U.S. Marine Corps in Okinawa on Wednesday resumed flight operations of its CH-53E transport helicopters, insisting it has confirmed their safety following a crash-landing by one a week ago.

A CH-53E took off Wednesday morning from U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan, where the choppers are based. The move came even as safety concerns and protests over the accident are gathering momentum at municipalities in Okinawa, which hosts the bulk of U.S. military facilities in Japan. The resumption also drew rebukes from both the Japanese government and the Okinawa government.

Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga said in a statement that he “absolutely cannot tolerate” the U.S. military’s stance, describing the resumption as “reckless” and saying the military failed to clarify the cause of the accident and explain what preventive measures they will take. He urged the central government to address the issue.

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