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U.S. military festival in Kanagawa criticized for letting kids touch machine guns

YAMATO/AYASE, Kanagawa -- A U.S. military festival held here on April 29 has triggered protests after children were allowed to touch dangerous objects such as machine guns, it has been learned.

    The incident happened during the Naval Air Facility (NAF) Atsugi Spring Festival, which was open to the general public. According to a Mainichi Shimbun interview with local government authorities, child visitors at the festival were allowed to touch machine guns and other items that were on board a U.S. military helicopter.

    The municipal governments of both Yamato and Ayase complained verbally to the U.S. military that the act of allowing children to touch machine guns was "undesirable" -- after which the weapons were quickly removed.

    According to the Ayase Municipal Government, a municipal employee who handles policy relating to military bases was at the site at around 1 p.m. on April 29. The employee confirmed that the U.S. military was allowing visitors to touch objects such as machine guns -- that had had the ammunition removed and any shooting functions disabled.

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