Okinawa, Japan — August 12, 2015 — Hours after Paul Kawika Martin, the policy and political director of the United State’s largest peace organization, Peace Action, addressed protesters in front of Camp Schwab in Okinawa, Japan a U.S. helicopter crashed in the ocean near the base. He is available for phone, in-person or Skype interviews in Okinawa and released the following statement from in front of the base:
“I am glad that all 17 crew were rescued from the helicopter crash at Camp Schwab in Okinawa, Japan. I hope that all physical and mental injuries heal quickly.
This accident happens one day before the 11th anniversary of another U.S. helicopter crash that occurred at the Okinawa International University. Accidents such as these occur regularly and the consequences could be much worse with residential communities extremely close to U.S. bases in Okinawa.
This is why nearly 80% of Okinawans oppose U.S. bases. Peace Action supports Okinawans in their request that the U.S. military leave the island. U.S. bases take up nearly a fifth of the island, which is larger than the U.S Virgin Islands. Despite their opposition, Okinawans are forced to pay through their tax dollars subsidies to the U.S. government to help cover costs of the bases while they suffer noise pollution, contaminated lands, chemical spill and aircraft accident risk and possible loss of income from tourism.
Though the U.S. is taking a small step by planning to move some troops to Guam, they plan on expanding the base in Henoko by filling in delicate, ocean reef environments to build two large runways. It is time that the U.S. listen to local Okinawans and relocate all U.S. military bases to Hawaii and other alternate locations where similar training can occur.”