Tokyo, Dec. 3 (Jiji Press)–Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi on Friday apologized for the continued flight operations by the U.S. military of its F-16 fighter jets despite the ministry’s request for a suspension after an incident.
The ministry made the request after an F-16 jet belonging to the U.S. military’s Misawa Air Base in the northeastern Japan prefecture of Aomori dropped two fuel tanks before making an emergency landing at Aomori Airport shortly past 6 p.m. Tuesday (9 a.m. GMT).
On Friday, Aomori Governor Shingo Mimura visited Kishi at the ministry in Tokyo and requested that the government take stronger action against the U.S. military over the matter.
“I deeply apologize for causing great anxiety and grave concerns,” Kishi told Mimura.
Mimura said, “Our relationship with the U.S. military is about to collapse.” He urged the central government to identify the cause of the incident and take preventive measures.
Kishi said he met Lt. Gen. Ricky Rupp, commander of U.S. Forces Japan, on Friday and asked him to explain the matter.
One of the tanks has been found near the town office of Fukaura, Aomori, and the other in a mountainous area of the town.
On Wednesday, the ministry asked the U.S. side to suspend the flight operations of F-16 jets until their safety is confirmed. But the resumption of their flight operations was reported the following day.
On Friday, Kishida told a news conference that the move is “extremely regrettable.”
Such an incident “could lead to a terrible disaster if anything goes wrong and have a serious impact on the residents’ safe and peaceful lives,” Kishi said, adding that this “must not happen.”