DN - Defence Notes

US apologises to Japan over military accidents

9th January 2018 - 11:45 GMT | by ​Agence France-Presse in Tokyo

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The US has apologised to Japan following a recent series of accidents involving US military equipment, the Japanese Ministry of Defence (MoD) said.

US Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, apologised to Japanese counterpart Itsunori Onodera after a series of accidents including the emergency landing of an American military helicopter in Okinawa on 8 January.

That came just two days after a similar incident on the southern Japanese island, where over half of the 47,000 American troops in Japan are stationed.

Itsunori Onodera, Japan’s Minister of Defence, said: ‘I told him about the issue, raising concrete examples of various accidents that happened in September, October, November, December last year and January this year in Okinawa.’

Onodera is expected to depart for Hawaii to meet the US commander in the Pacific, Harry Harris, to discuss the issue.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage after the helicopter landed near a hotel in the village of Yomitan on 8 January.

Takeshi Onaga, governor of Okinawa, said: ‘I am lost for words, really. I want them (the US military) to feel ashamed of their inability to be in control of what they are doing.’

In December 2017, a window from a US military helicopter fell onto a school sports ground near the Futenma marine air base in Okinawa, but again no one was injured.

In October, an American military helicopter burst into flames after landing in an empty field on the island.

Such accidents have sparked opposition to the US bases on the strategic island, which would serve as a launchpad for any American military activity in Asia.

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