U.S. flights linked to 17 damage cases

Redress projected to reach ¥6 million, based on five-year tally of military air operations

JIJI

Fighter jet and helicopter flights by the U.S. military caused 17 cases of property damage across Japan from April 2007 to February 2012, sources said Friday.

In 11 of the cases, compensation procedures have started under the bilateral Status Of Forces Agreement with the United States. The total damages are seen reaching around ¥6 million.

Damage to property caused by U.S. military flights ranged from the Tohoku region to Kyushu, indicating that American aircraft conduct flight drills across Japan.

If the U.S. military expands low-altitude operations of the tilt-rotor MV-22 Ospreys deployed to Japan, property damage may increase in various parts of the nation because these incidents are believed to have been caused by shock waves and vibrations stemming from low-altitude flights.

The United States this week carried out a low-altitude Osprey flight exercise on a route over Shikoku and the Kii Peninsula in Wakayama Prefecture.

According to Defense Ministry and U.S. military sources, five cases of property damage were reported in fiscal 2007, in Gunma, Kumamoto, Kanagawa and Aichi prefectures. In Gunma, a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hornet shattered house windows that April, while a Hornet fighter damaged lighting equipment on the runway of Nagoya Airport in Aichi Prefecture that November, when the plane made a precautionary landing.

A combined three incidents of property damage were reported in Gunma and Aomori prefectures in fiscal 2008, one case in Kanagawa Prefecture in fiscal 2009, and a total of six cases in Yamaguchi, Hiroshima, Akita, Kanagawa, Okayama and Iwate prefectures in fiscal 2010.

The fiscal 2010 cases included a U.S. military flight that damaged property inside a home in Yamaguchi Prefecture in June 2010, and a mortar storehouse that collapsed in Tsuyama, Okayama Prefecture, after U.S. aircraft passed over the area in March 2011.

The remaining two incidents occurred in fiscal 2011. A panel from a U.S. aircraft fell off over Kanagawa Prefecture in February 2012, damaging a vehicle, while a helicopter flight caused dozens of chickens to die after passing over a farm in Kagoshima Prefecture.

Under the SOFA, the United States covers 75 percent of compensation for private-sector damage caused in Japan by the U.S. military if it is entirely responsible. The rest is covered by Tokyo.