Futenma Marine Corps Air Station

Futenma air base is one of the most dangerous of its kind in the world. It sits at the center of a populace city on Okinawa, an island prefecture separated from the rest of the Japanese mainland. Here, the U.S. military has set up shop since the Second World War, and the residence on Okinawa are not happy. The U.S. Military has been cited repeatedly for air-crashes that threaten Futenma’s residences as well as the dumping of¬†military-grade chemicals and other materials which has harmed the island’s ecosystem. While plans have been underway for years to relocate the base (and politicians have made it part of their re-election platform), actual construction has been slow going. This is because the proposed alternative to Futenma airbase sits on a coral habitat and the run-ways proposed would completely destroy the aquatic environment. Further, Japan and the United States have squabbled over who will pay for the relocation as well as whether a relocation is even necessary.

Yesterday’s helicopter crash near Higashi village on Okinawa only proves the point that the base needs to be moved. Futenma airbase is a risk neither U.S. airmen nor the residence of the city should be willing, or have to, take. Being in the military is dangerous, it’s part of the job, but that does not mean that civilians in a peace-time environment should also have to bear that risk. Especially not a city of them.¬† Each time one of these helicopters crash (which, this crash is not the first but instead part of a long string of military accidents), the Japanese government must deal with not only another potential dead American service personnel but also civilian casualties. If it is a U.S. goal to continue a mission of friendship with the Japanese nation, then it is pertinent that it listen and respect the opinions of the people on Okinawa.

If you would like to read more about the crash: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/11/world/asia/us-helicopter-crash-okinawa.html

-Ariadne