Japan is demanding solutions after a U.S. F-16 fighter jet dropped a apply bomb on non-public property miles away from a joint U.S.-Japanese airbase, the most recent incident in an extended, troubled historical past relating to the big U.S. deployment to its high Asia-Pacific ally.
While no accidents have been reported, a perceived lack of transparency and the potential for grave hurt nonetheless provoked tensions between the Aomori province and the central authorities in Tokyo.
The occasion occurred Wednesday, about three miles from the Misawa Air Base in Aomori, however the U.S. army reportedly didn’t notify the Japanese aspect till the next day, eliciting additional anger from the area people and questions from the media.
“We immediately issued a severe protest against the U.S. side and requested to be provided with further information and effective measures to prevent any recurrence,” Defense Minister Kono Taro advised reporters at a press convention. “Training involving simulated munitions will be suspended for the time being. The mock munition was recovered and, fortunately, no one was injured, but I think it is a very serious incident.”
He denied hypothesis that an effort was made to cowl up the incident, arguing that “local understanding is a major premise for maintaining and strengthening the Japan-U.S. alliance and for the stable presence of U.S. forces in Japan.” Kono stated that “the first step is to provide this information, and at the same time, it is important that safety is given maximum consideration and that no accidents occur.”
Aomori Governor Mimura Shingo met later Friday with Kono to specific native concern, main the minister to apologize for the delay in authorities response. He advised Mimura that the roughly 500-pound unarmed machine “was very heavy, so it could have caused a major accident,” in response to the Mainichi newspaper.
“It will cause great concern among people in the prefecture and amplify distrust of the safety management of U.S. forces,” Mimura advised Kono.
The U.S. Air Force supplied its personal account of the incident in a press release issued Thursday and attributed to the 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs.
“An F-16 Fighting Falcon stationed at Misawa Air Base released a training device 5 Kilometers off from the designated training range late Wednesday. The device is an inert object and there are no reports of damage or injuries. The cause of the incident is still under investigation,” the assertion stated. “The 35th Fighter Wing takes the safety and security of our host-nation and local community very seriously.”
“We have suspended dropping inert objects as part of our training sorties until further notice and we are working with the appropriate parties to recover the device,” it added. “We are committed to performing our mission in a responsible manner and we will work with the Japanese community to ensure the well-being of our counter-parts.”
The U.S. has maintained a continuing, in depth army presence in Japan since defeating the nation in World War II, a lot of it in Okinawa province. While Washington and Tokyo have maintained a sturdy alliance within the many years since, scores of accidents and crimes involving U.S. personnel have introduced controversy to this deployment and alienated native communities.
In addition to the frequent falling of equipment from plane and occasional misbehavior—typically involving alcohol, U.S. personnel have been implicated in quite a few assaults, rapes and murders concentrating on Japanese residents through the years.
Still, the U.S. and Japan view the location of those personnel as important towards sustaining a robust posture within the face of perceived threats posed by the likes of North Korea, China and Russia. Both Washington and Tokyo have argued they actively attempt to foster relations between U.S. army personnel and Japanese locals.
One Japanese authorities official advised Newsweek in September that many native communities “have very good relationships with the commanders of these bases,” the place actions corresponding to English courses and sporting occasions are generally held. Asked concerning the protocol relating to incidents between U.S. army personnel and Japanese residents, the official merely stated: “When something happens that shouldn’t, we have to request that they prevent that from happening.”