U.S., Japan to jointly probe chopper crash

Aug. 23, 2004 at 4:32 PM
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TOKYO, Aug. 23 (UPI) -- U.S. and Japanese officials agreed Monday to jointly investigate the crash this month of a U.S. Marine chopper on an Okinawa university campus.

Japan demanded the formation of a joint investigative panel after the CH-53D helicopter from the U.S. Marine Corps' Futemma Air Station crashed on Aug. 13, the Kyodo news service reported.

Among topics to be discussed are bilateral communications, including air traffic, near U.S. bases in Japan during emergencies.

The Marines said Sunday the accident was due to a missing part from the helicopter itself, rather than a problem related to the model. It resumed flights Sunday of its CH-53D helicopters, which prompted swift and severe criticism.

Okinawa Governor Keiichi Inamine said flying helicopters of the same model "ignores the sentiments of prefectural people."

Shin Ebihara, director general of the Foreign Ministry's North American Affairs Bureau, phoned acting U.S. Ambassador Michael Mihalak to lodge a protest, calling the resumption of flights "extremely regrettable," the Japan Times reported Monday.

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