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FM Kono uses chartered plane for visit to the U.S.

Foreign Minister Taro Kono departed from Haneda Airport on March 15 for his visit to the U.S. This was his first time to use a chartered plane for a long-haul flight since assuming office. Some reckon that this was meant to pave the way for the introduction of an airplane for the exclusive use of ministers to enable the foreign minister to juggle his schedules for overseas visits.

 

The Foreign Ministry chartered a U.S.-made Gulfstream jet plane with a capacity of 20 for this trip until March 18. Certain ministry officials were on board with Kono. While the cost of the charter has not been disclosed, according to Marubeni Aerospace, a company specializing in business jet charters, the cost of the round trip flight between Tokyo and Washington should be from 35-40 million yen.

 

Kono has been arguing for the use of chartered or leased airplane if the introduction of an exclusive ministerial plane is not possible. Last December, he indicated his plan to include the allocation for an exclusive ministerial plane in the FY19 budget. This issue is being studied in the Foreign Ministry. Experience in using the chartered plane in this case will also provide useful information for the decision-making process.

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