Photo/IllutrationTakehiro Kamiya, head of the Midorigaoka nursery school, points to the place where a part of a U.S. military helicopter was discovered in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, on Dec. 7 (Kentaro Koyama)

GINOWAN, Okinawa Prefecture--A nursery school here that was struck by a part from a U.S. military helicopter is now being hit by a wave of accusations that it fabricated the story.

One e-mail criticized Midorigaoka nursery school officials for “a setup they engineered,” while another asked whether the “officials, as educators, do not feel a sense of shame for staging the incident.”

The preschool is now filtering e-mails, but it still receives four or so accusatory e-mails a day. It also receives phone calls from people who do not identify themselves.

Midorigaoka officials found the plastic object on the rooftop of the nursery school on the morning of Dec. 7, after children and staff heard the loud sound of something hitting the building.

The object, 9.5 centimeters long, 7.5 cm in diameter and 213 grams in weight, bore a red label that read, “Remove before flight” in English, as well as the letters “U.S.”

Local police confirmed traces of a dent on the rooftop.

The preschool is about 300 meters from the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.

On Dec. 8, the U.S. military authority confirmed that the part is used on its CH-53E helicopter.

But it added that the probability was low that the object fell from one of its choppers in flight, saying that no such parts were missing during a check of all CH-53E helicopters at the Futenma base.

After the media reported the U.S. military’s position, the preschool began receiving phone calls and e-mails, most of them implying that the officials had fabricated the incident. Such speculation has also spread on the Internet.

Takehiro Kamiya, head of the nursery school, denied faking the story.

“Where did the part come from?” he asked. “The fault lies with the U.S. military’s management (of the part), not us.”

Some callers blamed the preschool for being located close to the Futenma base, an argument that Kamiya finds preposterous.

“Okinawans have lived here long before the base was built,” he said. “The nursery school was founded here because our forefathers felt the need for it in our lives.”

Kamiya said the e-mails were probably written by people living on Japan’s main islands because the contents displayed an ignorance of the history behind U.S. bases on the southernmost prefecture.

During the Battle of Okinawa in 1945, U.S. forces seized a large portion of land in the central area of what is now Ginowan and built a runway for military use.

After their land was confiscated, Okinawans were ordered to move to areas designated by the U.S. military.

The city of Ginowan developed over the years around the Futenma base.

In 1964, when the prefecture was still under U.S. military control, a Christian church opened Midorigaoka, the first nursery school in the neighborhood.

After the helicopter part incident, parents of children at the preschool started collecting signatures for a petition demanding the halt of U.S. military aircraft flights over the school.

“Parents and preschool staff are on the verge of feeling depressed,” Kamiya said. “But I am hoping that voices supporting the petition will grow louder and louder and dispel their gloom.”