September 10, 2020 Ryukyu Shimpo
Concerning the investigation in which the flight paths of U.S. military aircraft that took off from and landed at Futenma Air Station were recorded, on September 9 in the Okinawa Defense Bureau (ODB) newsroom, the ODB released a 2019 month-by-month map of the planned air routes. These records confirm that there were flight paths that differed from the air routes previously agreed upon by the governments of the United States and Japan.
The month-by-month air route map was released before this point on the ODB website on the internet, but was removed from the website per the wishes of the U.S.military. Given that the details in these reports could no longer be read, it became an issue of the retraction of access to information. Following the U.S. military helicopter crash at Okinawa International University in 2004, the governments of the United States and Japan established revised flight paths so as to avoid using airspace over private land to the extent possible.
In an interview with the Ryukyu Shimpo on September 9, a spokesperson for the ODB explained: “It is presumed that flying on flight paths outside of air routes may be unavoidable due to weather conditions such as cloudiness and wind. Generally, flight paths did follow the air routes”.
Meanwhile, the governments of the United States and Japan have requested that the U.S. military act to follow air routes and safety measures, and also requested noise reductions. The U.S. military has responded by instructing crewmembers that maintaining safety during flight is to be prioritized. The month-by-month air routes map can be seen in the ODB first-floor newsroom during the hours of 9:00 a.m.-noon and 1:00-5:00 p.m., excluding weekends and national holidays.
(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)