Moritake Tomikawa, the vice governor of Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture, demanded explanations from the US Brig. Gen. Paul Rock following several incidents with US aircraft, local media reported Tuesday.
On Monday, an AH1 attack helicopter had to make an emergency landing at a waste disposal site near Yomitan village, while on Saturday, another US helicopter made an emergency landing on a beach in Uruma City.
According to the NHK broadcaster, the vice governor met with the US commander at Camp Foster, formerly known as Zukeran, in Okinawa, and asked to disclose all information related to the latest incidents and demanded that the US military take measures.
Earlier in the day, the prefecture’s Governor Takeshi Onaga reportedly expressed his strong dissatisfaction with the incidents and lambasted the Japanese government for its inability to handle the issue.
US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has already apologized for the accidents to Japan’s Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera in a phone conversation on Tuesday.
The US military maintains a substantial presence in Japan, with US Forces Japan (USFJ) consisting of over 50,000 military personnel and 8,000 civilian employees. A large number of US bases are located in Okinawa, but there have been some tensions between local residents and the US military, in part, over aircraft incidents and accidents related to troops’ behavior.