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Local newspapers’ chopper crash focus starts to irk readers

Date Posted: 2005-02-18

Daily news reports in Okinawa’s two leading newspapers continue to spotlight the crash of an Marine Corps helicopter in Ginowan, despite the passage of time.

It’s been six months since the CH-46 Sea Stallion crash landed on the Okinawa International University campus, but the Ryukyu Shimpo and the Okinawa Times continue to publish stories almost daily about the crash and the public outcry that arose from it. Many readers are now complaining the focus is overblown, and that they’re getting tired of reading about the protests.

On the OIU campus, the battle between teachers, staff and students rages on, with some wanting the crash to be put to rest, while others want to keep the August 13th crash in the news. “It’s too much now, please be quiet,” one said. “Outsiders must not tell us what to do” said another. “It is just our problem. Leave us alone.”

The scorched administration building wall remains a visible reminder. Some want the wall repainted, while others want it left as a memorial tribute to what could have been a disaster. “We have to keep it forever as evidence of the accident,” added one proponent of a permanent reminder.

Another argues the school must move ahead, dismissing the incident. “It’s too bad and too dangerous to keep things are they are. We don’t have time for answering your questions, and we’re busy.” School officials have asked the media to back off. The press is on the campus almost daily, disrupting operations as they try to talk to students and teachers. Teachers say they are angry at the interruptions. OIU has created a special office for interviews, but admits the disruptions are wasting the university’s time.

The university wants to replace the scorched building, and a decision is to be made by the end of this month. Opponents, including socialists and media, want it kept as is.

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