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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 October 11 - 17  > Hiroshima JCP protests against US military jets’ firing of ‘flare’ decoys above residential areas
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2017 October 11 - 17 TOP3 [US FORCES]

Hiroshima JCP protests against US military jets’ firing of ‘flare’ decoys above residential areas

October 17, 2017

The Japanese Communist Party in Hiroshima’s Kitahiroshima Town on October 16 sent a written statement to the Foreign and Defense ministries in protest against the recent incident where U.S. military aircraft fired “flare” decoys above the town during flight drills a week ago.

Flare decoys are small rockets used by military jets to deceive anti-aircraft missiles equipped with the infrared search-and-track system. After being launched, these decoys burn fuels made of magnesium, fluoro-resin, fluoro rubber, and other substances to attract heat-seeking missiles. If burning pieces of these fuels fell on the ground, they could cause a fire. Flight training drills involving flare decoys normally take place over the sea.

In the afternoon of October 11 in Kitahiroshima Town, two U.S. fighter jets fired something akin to flare decoys multiple times while engaging in acrobatic moves such as vertical climbs and nosedives. This scene was witnessed by local residents and videotaped by some of them. The two fighter jets were most likely FA-18 Super Hornets. This model is used by the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. Apparently, those jets were carrying out low-altitude flight drills even over residential areas where clinics and post offices are located.

The JCP Kitahiroshima Town branch and JCP town assembly member Mino Koji sent their written protest to Defense Minister Onodera Itsunori and Foreign Minister Kono Taro. The JCP members condemned the firing of flares, saying, “It endangered people’s lives and is totally unacceptable.” They demanded that the government disclose what the purpose of the drill was, which unit of the U.S. military the jets belong to, and whether the fired flare decoys contained toxic substances or not. The JCP also insisted that the government should apologize to residents and that such low-altitude flight drills be banned.

On the same day, Kitahiroshima Town Mayor Mino Hiroshi expressed his regret over the flare launches and called on the government for investigation and information disclosure over the incident. The Hiroshima Prefectural government requested the Defense Ministry’s local bureau to explain what actually took place.
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