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SECURITY > U.S. Bases

FM Motegi comments on U.S. military helicopters flying low in central Tokyo 

  • March 20, 2021
  • , Mainichi
  • JMH Summary

Saturday’s Mainichi wrote that during a Lower House committee meeting on Friday, Foreign Minister Motegi commented on reports that U.S. military helicopters have repeatedly conducted low-altitude flights over central Tokyo. He was quoted as saying: “Both the U.S. and Japan take the matter seriously…. We were told by the U.S. side that each unit has been given additional instructions to operate flights in accordance with military regulations without fail.” He added that the U.S. side has not confirmed any helicopter flights that ran counter to U.S. military regulations, which are compatible with the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) rules and Japan’s Aviation Law. 

 

In a follow-up report, the daily wrote on Sunday that the mayors’ association of the 23 wards in Tokyo has decided to conduct a survey on complaints from local residents about the U.S. military’s low-altitude flights. 

 

Mainichi reported separately on Saturday on numerous eyewitness accounts in Okinawa of low-altitude flights by U.S. military airplanes since last year, saying that because all of the aircraft involved were USAF MC-130Js, which airlift special operations commandos and supplies to front lines during contingencies, they were probably conducting training flights to reduce the likelihood of radar interception amid China’s rapid military buildup in the Western Pacific. The U.S. military has reportedly told the Defense Ministry that the flights were conducted to maintain the pilots’ readiness and were in accordance with U.S.-Japan agreements. 

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