US military helicopter window falls onto school field in Okinawa

TOKYO* A window from a United States military helicopter fell onto a school sports field in southern Japan yesterday, the marines said, apologising for a ''regrettable'' incident likely to fuel opposition to their presence.

There were no reports of serious injuries from the morning accident that took place at an elementary school near the Futenma marine airbase in Okinawa.

Children were taking a sports class on the field when the window, measuring about 90cm in length, fell, a police official said.

The US military said it was taking the incident ''extremely seriously'' and was opening an investigation.

''This is a regrettable incident and we apologise for any anxiety it has caused the community,'' the military added in a statement.

The incident comes just two months after an American military chopper burst into flames after landing in an empty field in Okinawa. Such accidents have sparked opposition to the US bases on the strategic island, which would be a launchpad for any American military activity in Asia.

Residents want Futenma to be closed, saying they can no longer live with the noise pollution, accidents and occasional crimes committed by US service members.

''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.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 14, 2017, with the headline 'US military helicopter window falls onto school field in Okinawa'. Print Edition | Subscribe