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Ginowan City, Futenma officials sign disaster preparedness agreement

4 Jul 2013 | Courtesy Story

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION FUTENMA, Japan - Mayor Atsushi Sakima of Ginowan City and Col. James G. Flynn, commanding officer of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, signed a bilateral agreement June 26 at MCAS Futenma specifying evacuation methods for Okinawa residents through the air station in the event of a natural disaster and for evacuation drills to maintain preparedness.

Under the agreement, in the event of a natural disaster, especially a tsunami, MCAS Futenma would open one or more of the station’s gates and post evacuation route signs, allowing evacuees immediate and direct passage to higher ground or shelter by transiting through the air station. 

The agreement is an important step in protecting the Okinawa and military communities during times of need, according to Sakima.

“The March 2011 earthquake in northern Japan triggered a powerful tsunami that devastated the area and resulted in the loss of a large number of people’s lives and property in a matter of minutes and seconds,” said Sakima. “This traumatic event emphasized the importance of having an effective evacuation plan for the citizens of Okinawa, who are completely surrounded by a body of water. This implementation not only helps save lives of Okinawans, but of tourists and visitors from all over the world who happen to be in the area at the time of disaster.” 

Flynn emphasized the significance of the agreement and the collaboration during its development.

“The joint signing of this document recognizes the importance our communities place on preparing for a natural disaster that may jeopardize the safety of our citizens,” said Flynn. “I am confident that in working together we will undoubtedly protect the lives of countless men, women, children, old and young, faced by a tsunami or other catastrophe. Ideally we should hope that we will never have to execute this plan, but if the circumstances arise requiring to do so, I know that we are prepared.”

The procedures established between Ginowan and Futenma supplements a local implementation agreement signed in November 2012 by Sakima, Mayor Masaharu Noguni of Chatan Town and retired Maj. Gen. Peter J. Talleri, the former commanding general of Marine Corps Installations Pacific and Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler. It is also a supplementation of a limited humanitarian assistance agreement set in August 2012 between Ginowan City and MCAS Futenma.

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