March 7 (UPI) — Criticism of the U.S. military in Japan is growing among Tokyo’s government officials and politicians in Okinawa after a U.S. F-15 fighter jet dropped an antenna during flight.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga addressed the Feb. 27 incident Wednesday during a regular press briefing, and said it is “truly regrettable that it was not reported immediately,” Kyodo News reported.
Suga said Tokyo “strongly urges” the U.S. military to promptly identify the cause of the incident.
The antenna, measuring 15 by 6 inches and weighing about 3 pounds, fell from the Okinawa-based aircraft last week.
U.S. Forces Japan did not report the incident until Monday, Stars and Stripes reported.
A USFJ official said the antenna most likely dropped into the sea and therefore “posed no threat to people or property on the ground.”
“USFJ is working with the unit to determine the reason for the delay in reporting. Once the incident was reported to USFJ, we notified the government of Japan in a timely manner,” the military told Stars and Stripes.
Residents in Okinawa and Japanese politicians are not happy, however.
Mayor Hiroshi Toyama of Kadena Town in Okinawa told Kyodo the U.S. military is not sufficiently concerned about the incident, and a resident of the town said the antenna drop was “unforgivable.”
Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga said Wednesday it was regrettable U.S. forces did not contact him immediately after the accident.
“We strongly call for a fundamental change in the inspection, maintenance and safety management system” of U.S. forces, Onaga said.
In December, a plastic part from a U.S. military helicopter landed on the roof of an Okinawan nursery school, and in October a U.S. aircraft made an emergency landing in a field after a fire.