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Fishermen to seek ¥93 million in damages over February dumping of fuel tanks by U.S. fighter jet

Kyodo

Fishermen in northeastern Japan are set to seek about ¥93 million in damages over the February dumping of fuel tanks by a U.S. fighter jet, which forced them to halt fishing, a local Defense Ministry bureau said Monday.

More than 180 members of a fisheries cooperative in Aomori Prefecture will seek a total of ¥93.23 million for the suspension of their clam and other seafood fishing operations in a local lake for about a month following the Feb. 20 incident, according to the Tohoku Defense Bureau.

An engine fire caused an F-16 fighter jet from U.S. Misawa Air Base to dump two fuel tanks in Lake Ogawara.

Under the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement, Washington is supposed to shoulder 75 percent of the total damages caused by its military in the performance of official duties in Japan, with Tokyo covering the rest, if the United States alone is responsible.

The amount of compensation will be finalized after the Defense Ministry examines the validity of the cooperative’s claim and negotiates with the United States. The group has yet to submit their official request.

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera had pledged to compensate the local fishermen for their losses caused by the dumping.

Units of Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force and the U.S. forces recovered some 95 percent of the parts of the tanks from the lake before fishing was restarted on March 22.