A U.S. F-16 fighter jet dropped a 230 kilogram dummy bomb onto private property near a bombing training site in Aomori Prefecture, Defense Ministry officials in Tokyo said Thursday.
No one was injured and no buildings were damaged in the incident, which took place during a training mission at around 6:35 p.m. Wednesday, the officials said.
The U.S. military reported the incident to the ministry Thursday morning. Later, it said that the incident was very serious and that similar training missions with dummy bombs will be suspended for the time being, according to the officials.
Following the report, the ministry sent staff to the scene and provided related information to local authorities. It also demanded the U.S. military identify the cause of the incident and tighten safety controls.
“It could have caused a terrible disaster. We are taking this incident very seriously,” Aomori Gov. Shingo Mimura told reporters Thursday.
On Friday, Defense Minister Taro Kono met Mimura at the ministry and apologized for not reporting the incident to the prefecture on the day it occurred.
The incident “fans fears of residents and exacerbates distrust of the U.S. military’s safety control,” Mimura was quoted by ministry officials as telling Kono.
The dummy bomb, filled with concrete instead of gunpowder, landed in a meadow about 5 kilometers west of the training site, which straddles the city of Misawa and the village of Rokkasho, according to the ministry officials.
The training site is located about 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of U.S. Misawa Air Base, which the fighter jet belongs to. A post office and a school are located within a 5-kilometer radius of the training site.
The training site is managed by the U.S. military but it is also used by the Self-Defense Forces.