The U.S. Air Force offered its own account of the incident in a statement issued Thursday and attributed to the 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs.
“An F-16 Fighting Falcon stationed at Misawa Air Base released a training device 5 Kilometers off from the designated training range late Wednesday. The device is an inert object and there are no reports of damage or injuries. The cause of the incident is still under investigation,” the statement said. “The 35th Fighter Wing takes the safety and security of our host-nation and local community very seriously.”
“We have suspended dropping inert objects as part of our training sorties until further notice and we are working with the appropriate parties to recover the device,” it added. “We are committed to performing our mission in a responsible manner and we will work with the Japanese community to ensure the well-being of our counter-parts.”
The U.S. has maintained a constant, extensive military presence in Japan since defeating the country in World War II, much of it in Okinawa province. While Washington and Tokyo have maintained a robust alliance in the decades since, scores of accidents and crimes involving U.S. personnel have brought controversy to this deployment and alienated local communities.
In addition to the frequent falling of equipment from aircraft and occasional misbehavior—often involving alcohol, U.S. personnel have been implicated in a number of assaults, rapes and murders targeting Japanese citizens over the years.
Still, the U.S. and Japan view the placement of these personnel as vital toward maintaining a powerful posture in the face of perceived threats posed by the likes of North Korea, China and Russia. Both Washington and Tokyo have argued they actively try to foster relations between U.S. military personnel and Japanese locals.
One Japanese government official told Newsweek in September that many local communities “have very good relationships with the commanders of these bases,” where activities such as English classes and sporting events are sometimes held. Asked about the protocol regarding incidents between U.S. military personnel and Japanese citizens, the official simply said: “When something happens that shouldn’t, we have to request that they prevent that from happening.”
The post Japan Issues ‘Severe Protest’ After U.S. F-16 Drops ‘Simulated’ Bomb on Private Land appeared first on Newsweek.