US Marines commander at Japan base sacked
TOKYO, June 5, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – The commanding officer at a US Marine base
on the Japanese island of Okinawa has been fired over a “loss of trust”, the
US Marines said Tuesday.
A brief statement said Colonel Mark S. Coppess had been relieved of duty as
commanding officer of the Futenma base “due to a loss of trust and confidence
in his ability to lead his command.”
There was no immediate comment or further detail from the Marines on why
Coppess had been dismissed.
It follows the sacking announced in February of the commander of the
Marines’ Japan-based Osprey squadron, after a series of accidents involving
the hybrid aircraft.
The most serious, in 2017, involved the crash of an MV-22 Osprey off the
east coast of Australia.
A major search and rescue operation eventually found 23 of the crew
involved, but the search for three others was called off.
A series of issues involving US military aircraft in Japan has stoked
tension over the US military presence in the country.
In January, US Defence Secretary James Mattis apologised to his Japanese
counterpart after a string of accidents, including one in December 2017 when
the window of a US military helicopter fell onto the grounds of a school near
the Futenma base.
Okinawa hosts the bulk of some 47,000 US troops based in Japan, and their
presence has been a source of friction with residents.
The prefecture was the site of a major World War II battle that was
followed by a 27-year US occupation of the island, and it would serve as a
launchpad for any American military activity in Asia.