• Jiji


The U.S. military has continued to operate its F-16 fighter jets in Japan, even after being asked to ground them by the Defense Ministry, it has been learned.

The request came after an F-16 jet from the U.S. military’s Misawa Air Base in Aomori Prefecture dropped two fuel tanks on Tuesday evening before making an emergency landing at Aomori Airport.

The ministry plans to ask the U.S. side once again to suspend the flights of its F-16 fighters until their safety is confirmed.

“An incident like this that causes concern among local residents should have never happened,” Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said on Wednesday.

Despite being asked not to fly F-16 fighter jets until the cause of the incident and the safety of the jets are confirmed, the U.S. military resumed the operations of the jets from the Misawa base on Thursday, according to the ministry.

“We are taking seriously the flight resumption without any form of explanation, as (the U.S. side’s) act has upset local residents and may have fueled their distrust in the U.S. military as a whole,” Aomori Gov. Shingo Mimura said.

The tanks were dropped in an apparent effort to prevent fire during the emergency landing.

One of the tanks was found within Tuesday on a highway close to the town office of Fukaura in Aomori Prefecture.

The U.S. military searched for the second tank and found it Thursday in a mountainous area in Fukaura, some 900 meters away from where the first tank was found. The U.S. side had said that the tank was discarded near Mount Iwaki, which straddles the city of Hirosaki and the town of Ajigasawa in Aomori Prefecture.

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