Ginowan man fined ¥500,000 for pointing laser at U.S. helo

A summary court in Naha ordered a Ginowan man to pay a ¥500,000 fine, Monday, for pointing a laser beam at a Marine helicopter near MCAS Futenma in July.

Police had arrested 56-year-old Katsuro Hiraoka earlier in December on suspicion of pointing a laser beam at a helicopter flying near his house. When questioned, Hiraoka admitted to the charge telling investigators he had become irritated for the noise from helicopters flying from the nearby MCAS Futenma.

According to the indictment, the Hiraoka had pointed the laser beam at the U.S. Marine helicopter from a parking lot near the MCAS about 9 p.m. The helicopter was flying at an altitude of about 300 meters when the incident occurred, and subsequently stopped its training mission.

According to press reports, similar incidents have taken place near Kadena Air Base, and lasers have also been aimed at U.S. and Japanese military aircraft outside Atsugi base in Kanagawa Prefecture.

U.S. military officials have expressed concern about laser pointers, saying they “pose a threat to the safe operation” of aircraft.