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Renewed calls for Futenma closing on chopper crash 5th anniversary

Date Posted: 2009-08-20

Five years after a U.S. Marine Corps helicopter crashed onto the campus of Okinawa International University in Ginowan, the academic institution held a symposium to “think the situation of the current Futenma base” and to issue new calls for its being closed.

The Saturday symposium brought faculty, students and local residents, including the Ginowan City Mayor. Yoichi Iha talked politics and change, saying “if our part (the Democratic Party of Japan) takes over political power, we will ask the Japanese and American governments about making a new contract” for Futenma. Panelists seized upon attendees’ opinions “the Futenma Air Station should close quickly, and needs to be returned to landowners.”

Panelists called for unity and “making a big voice,” telling both Japanese and American governments “Close Futenma Air Station quickly, return it to the land owners, and give us a peaceful life.” The argument presented during the symposium held to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the helicopter crash into the university administration building, was that “we must move the government. Without our saying anything, nothing will be changed.”

An assistant professor at Okinawa International University said he thinks students need to be reminded of what happened in the past. Kazuhiko Tobaru says “it looks like students are fighting with students who are apathetic about the accident,” and said “teachers should teach more about accidents”. In the past, students even held a ‘No Fly zone Concert’ to draw attention to Futenma.

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