Japan’s government said Wednesday it has asked the US military to swiftly report mishaps after it took six days for it to be notified that an F-15 fighter jet stationed in Okinawa had lost a part during a flight.
“It is truly regrettable that it was not reported immediately,” said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, adding the government has asked the US military to report such incidents promptly, investigate the cause and prevent a recurrence.
A part resembling an antenna weighing 1.4 kilograms fell from the fighter jet stationed at the US Kadena Air Base in Japan’s southwestern prefecture on February 27, but Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera revealed the government was only notified on Monday.
“We would like to request the US side to put top priority on confirming safety,” Onodera told reporters in Tokyo.
The defence minister added that he received the information through the Foreign Ministry and not through the local defence bureau, which is the normal protocol, and said he was “baffled” by the unusual move.
The part was discovered to be missing after the fighter returned to base, according to a government source. There was no report of injury.
Coming after a slew of similar incidents in recent months, the mishap drew fresh criticism from Okinawa, home to the bulk of US military facilities in Japan.
“This is out of the blue. They are slow in providing information,” said Deputy Okinawa Governor Moritake Tomikawa.
Kadena town mayor Hiroshi Toyama also called for incidents such as this one to be disclosed immediately.
“We have been asking the US military to prevent a recurrence every time there is a mishap, but they keep on happening,” Toyama added.
In December, a window fell from a CH-53E transport helicopter onto the playground of an junior school near the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.
Last month, an F-16 fighter jet stationed at the US Misawa Air Base in the northeastern Japan prefecture of Aomori dumped two fuel tanks in a lake due to an engine fire, forcing local fishermen to suspend fishing. – SCMP
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