On Friday, the Japanese Defense Ministry, fed up with the US Marine Corps’ denial that its personnel flew helicopters over an elementary school on Okinawa, published video footage of the incident to prove their case.
The video, which was recorded by security cameras on Thursday, shows two AH-1 attack helicopters and one UH-1 multipurpose helicopter flying in airspace above an elementary school that US officials had previously stated they would avoid.
The decision to steer clear of the area came about after a 10-year-old child suffered minor injuries when a chopper’s window fell into the playground area belonging to the Futenma No. 2 Elementary School in Ginowan.
Officials initially filed a complaint with the US military base in Futenma, but after they denied the allegations, claiming that personnel interviews and radar data did not prove the incident took place, the ministry decided to publish the security footage.
“As you can see from the video footage we have, the helicopters’ underbellies are clearly visible as they flew,” Itsunori Onodera, Japan’s defense minister, said at a press briefing on the matter. “Children, teachers and parents will certainly be worried.”
“This is a kind of flight we don’t want to see,” Onodera added.
Takeshi Onaga, Okinawa’s governor, called the flyover a “broken promise” and “completely outrageous.”
Though Onodera asked the Marine Corps on Friday to again confirm that the flyover took place, it’s unclear what the US response will be.
Unlike the December mishap, there were no children present on the playground when the three helicopters were filmed flying over the school, the Japan Times reported. Students had been evacuated from the area during a drill that was initiated by the school in response to the window incident.
According to Kyodo News, the playground has not been used for classes since the window landed on the elementary school’s property.