Windshield from U.S. copter falls on Okinawa school's ground

Windshield from U.S. copter falls on Okinawa school's ground

NAHA, Japan (Kyodo) - A window fell from a US military transport helicopter onto the grounds of an elementary school in Okinawa on Wednesday, triggering renewed anger and concern in the prefecture that hosts the bulk of USA forces in Japan.

Anti-U.S. sentiment has been rising on the subtropical island amid rising instances of U.S. base-linked crimes, noise, pollution and military accidents.

Japan's central government and Okinawa authorities have been at odds for years over the Futenma base.

"This kind of incident causes worries among not only people at the school but all the people in Okinawa and should never happen", said chief Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga.

On Dec. 7, a small cylindrical object crashed onto the roof of the Midorigaoka nursery school from a USA military helicopter. Suga told a regular news conference that the government would respond appropriately after getting an explanation from USA officials. Safety concerns were recently rekindled by a series of accidents involving U.S. Marines Osprey aircraft and another CH-53E helicopter that belong to the Futenma base.

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Local police and investigators in collaboration with the U.S. Military and regional Defense Bureau were investigating the detailed information related to the accident, authorities said Wednesday. "This is a regrettable incident and we apologize for any anxiety it has caused the community", a statement said.

The Futenma base is located in a residential area, with schools, shops, and hospitals.

A Japanese policeman stands guard at the entrance gate of the elementary school where a window from the CH-53E helicopter fell onto the school's sports ground. No one was injured.

The agency notes that the base in a dense residential area has caused local security concerns and moods against the presence of U.S. military.

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