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High Court orders disclosure of ’06 helicopter crash documents

Date Posted: 2008-05-30

The Japanese government decision to withhold documents surrounding the crash of a U.S. Marine Corps helicopter on Okinawa nearly two years ago has been slammed by the Fukuoka High Court.

A court battle over whether the government must release all documents pertaining to the August 2006 crash of a CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopter in Ginowan City began after a lower court ruled authorities had the right to keep some documents away from the public. A Naha City man had initiated the suit, demanding that the Foreign Ministry reveal all documents concerning the crash onto Okinawa International University’s campus, injuring three crew members. The helicopter slammed into an administration building wall at the university, which sits next to Futenma Marine Corps Air Station, but nobody on the ground was injured.

Presiding Judge Osamu Nishi and the Fukuoka High Court has now directed the government to hand over the documents. The lower court had rejected the suit, citing potential damage to U.S.- Japan security relations if the documents were turned over without Washington’s approval. Justice and Foreign ministries are now contemplating an appeal to Nishi’s order.

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