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New accident handling guidelines being worked

Date Posted: 2004-09-10

Changes are coming on how Japan and America cooperate in the wake of an accident.

That word from Washington, where senior American and Japanese officials have been working to draft new rules for sharing responsibilities following accidents. The meetings came in the wake of the August 13th crash of a Marine Corps helicopter in Okinawa.

Okinawan officials were critical of the U.S. military over their refusal to allow Okinawa police to conduct on-site investigations into the crash of the Sea Stallion CH-53D helicopter, despite the fact it crashed on Okinawan territory. The Okinawa public has been clamoring for changes to the procedures, too.

The two sides have agreed to draft the new guidelines, and then send them to the Japan-U.S. Joint Committee. They did not say how long they expect the task to take. The U.S. Air Forces Japan vice commander, Brig. Gen. Bradley Baker, says his government will “actively tackle” the issue to foster better cooperation.

The deputy chief of the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s North American Affairs Bureau, Kazuyoshi Umemoto, is reported as saying “there were voices of criticism … at the scene when the helicopter crashed.”

The next meeting is expected later this month, followed by two additional sessions each month until agreements are reached.

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