U.S. Military Aviation Mishaps In Japan and Okinawan Political Controversy
Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States
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This thesis investigates the significance of U.S. military aviation mishaps in Japan. Such accidents routinely create political controversy in Okinawa, but some incidents draw more attention or ridicule than others. This study evaluates the conditions that shape the variation in how damaging aviation mishaps are to the maintenance of American bases, which are crucial to American regional strategy. Using qualitative methods, this research analyzes five U.S. military crashes in Okinawa the 2004 CH-53 crash at Okinawa International University, the 2013 HH-60 Air Force crash near Camp Hansen, the 1988 CH-46 crash in Kunigami, the 1992 CH-46 crash at Marine Corps Air Station MCAS Futenma, and the 1959 F-100D crash at Miyamori Primary School. This study concludes that the four most significant crash factors in Okinawa are whether a crash occurred in a township, whether civilian fatalitiesinjuries were involved, whether there was a cluster of recent U.S. military accidents, and whether American post-crash public relations was poor. An accident involving MCAS Futenma or the U.S. Marines will be more highly politicized. Thus, a Futenma-based aircraft crashing into the township and killing civilians represents a worst-case scenario. Three crash factors that the U.S. military has the ability to influence are post-crash public relations, crash-site management, and local interagency cooperation.