Okinawa assembly adopts resolution protesting fighter jet crash

The Okinawa prefectural assembly unanimously passed a resolution Thursday protesting the crash of a U.S. Air Force F-15 fighter jet in waters off the main island in the southern prefecture in May.

Members of the assembly visited the U.S. Kadena Air Base later in the day and handed the resolution to Maj. Christopher Anderson, head of the Public Affairs Office of the 18th Wing of the U.S. base.

"This recent incident has impacted those in the fisheries industry and the rest of the citizens in the prefecture with great concern and fear," the resolution says, urging suspension of training using F-15s until the cause of the crash is determined and preventive measures for similar accidents are taken.

The F-15 from the U.S. Kadena Air Base crashed into the Pacific Ocean about 60 kilometers off the village of Kunigami in the northern part of Okinawa Island during a training flight on May 28, but the pilot ejected safely.

The site of the crash was surrounded by rich fishing grounds and "(the accident) could have directly affected fishermen operating in the area and triggered a terrible tragedy," the resolution says.

The resolution also terms the U.S. military's resumption of drills involving F-15s "truly regrettable," as they resumed two days after the incident, despite local calls to ground the fighter jets until the cause of the crash was determined.

The U.S. Air Force told the assembly members it had conducted inspections on about 50 F-15s by a total of 2,000 personnel following the crash, according to prefectural assembly member Seiryo Arakaki. The U.S. military did not give any detailed explanation on the cause of the incident but said it will come up with a report on the crash investigation in 30 to 90 days, Arakaki added.

The assembly also adopted a separate resolution protesting against recent remarks by Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto urging U.S. forces to use Japan's legal adult entertainment industry to prevent the recurrence of sex offenses in Okinawa.

Such remarks that upset the people of Okinawa are "totally inexcusable," the resolution says.

Hashimoto, who co-heads the right-leaning Japan Restoration Party, told reporters in May he had asked a senior U.S. military officer based in Okinawa to let Marines use local sex-related services, saying, "Otherwise, they cannot control the sexual energy of wild Marines."

Amid an outcry at home and abroad, he later retracted the comment and offered an apology.