Okinawa protests US parachute drills

The government of Okinawa has protested a US military parachute drill conducted at an airbase on the prefecture's main island. Officials held the drill there instead of on a remote island, as stipulated in a Japan-US agreement.

The drill took place on Wednesday night. Paratroopers jumped from a US military plane and landed at the Kadena Airbase in Okinawa, amid protests from locals.

This followed a similar drill at the same base on April 24th.

Deputy Okinawa Governor Moritake Tomikawa called the head of the Defense Ministry's regional bureau, Koichiro Nakajima, to his office on Thursday to present a letter of protest. It asked the central government to lodge a protest with the US forces over the drills.

In the letter, Okinawa officials called it an outrage that US forces have conducted another parachute drill at the Kadena base, and at night, while ignoring the protests.

The letter says Okinawa cannot allow parachute drills at Kadena to become routine.

Tomikawa said the repeated drills on the Okinawa mainland have made residents anxious.

Nakajima, the head of the defense bureau, said he had already complained to the US forces about the drills.

He said he will call on the US forces in Okinawa to conduct parachute dills on the remote island of Iejima, as stipulated in the 1996 agreement.

After the previous drills in April, the US forces cited poor weather over the remote island as the reason for changing the location of the parachute training.