GINOWAN, Okinawa Prefecture – The US military is in hot water again after a water bottle fell from an Osprey plane over a densely populated residential area here, rekindling security concerns among prefecture officials and residents.
The object fell from the low-flying U.S. plane between 6:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. on November 23, which the U.S. military reported to prefecture officials on the morning of November 24 via a local Department of Defense office.
No one was injured in the accident, according to prefectural authorities.
Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki has indicated he will protest the incident to the Japanese and US governments, questioning the US military’s attitude towards security.
“Given that this happened in the middle of a residential area, I cannot help but have strong doubts about the US military’s security management system,” he said. .
Tamaki also expressed his displeasure that the US military waited until the next morning to notify the Japanese side.
“I am concerned that the US military has a systemic problem with its crisis management,” he said.
The stainless steel drinking vessel – 12 inches by 6 inches – was discovered near the front door of a house near US Marine Corps Futenma Air Base, local police said. The Osprey in question is deployed in the facility.
Part of the canteen was crushed and there was a sign on a nearby roadside drain that was apparently struck by the object. Additionally, footage from a security camera showed the canteen falling from above.
Police said an Osprey crew member may have accidentally dropped it in flight. They said the plane sometimes flies with its door open.
The resident of the house where the canteen fell said she noticed the silver canteen, which bears English letters and military squadron stickers, when she returned home around 11 p.m. that evening.
She said that while studying the vial the next morning, she discovered that part of it was damaged by pieces strewn around the stage.
“If the canteen had fallen on a person, that person could have been killed,” said the 63-year-old woman, adding that many people were walking dogs in the area. “I was afraid of an accident involving the Osprey while flying at low altitude. This accident was yet another reminder that we have to live to the limit. “
In Tokyo, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a press conference on Nov. 24 that the Japanese government had filed a complaint about the incident with the United States.
He also said the government had urged U.S. officials to provide information promptly after an accident occurred and to rigorously enforce measures to keep planes safe to prevent it from happening again.
Falling objects involving US military planes are nothing new to residents of Ginowan.
In December 2017, an element of a helicopter was discovered on the roof of a kindergarten. That same month, a window fell from an aging CH53-E large helicopter on the grounds of an elementary school. No one was injured in either incident.
(This story was written by Mika Kuniyoshi, Shogo Mitsuzumi, and Takero Yamazaki.)