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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 March 21 - 27  > Local fisheries badly off due to dumping of fuel tanks from US F16 fighter jet
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2018 March 21 - 27 [US FORCES]

Local fisheries badly off due to dumping of fuel tanks from US F16 fighter jet

March 21, 2018

The dumping of two fuel tanks from U.S. military aircraft one month ago has been casting a dark shadow over the economy of a rural town in Aomori Prefecture.

On February 20, a U.S. F-16 fighter jet stationed at the U.S. Misawa base in Aomori jettisoned two external fuel tanks into Lake Ogawara in the prefecture's Tohoku Town. The two objects fell near a fishing boat collecting "shijimi" freshwater clams on the lake.

The town, with about 400 fishermen in the lake area, ranks at the top in Japan in the catch of shijimi clams, "wakasagi" freshwater fish, and eels. The local fisheries cooperative soon decided to prohibit all fishing on the lake until the safety of fish/shellfish and water quality are confirmed.

Veteran fisherman Hamada Shoichi, fishing for "shirauo" whitebait for half a century, has not gone out on the lake since the accident. He said, "I've long been engaged in fishing, but this is the first time that I've been grounded for such a long time." He complained about losses caused by the incident, saying that his monthly sales should be at least two million yen.

Another fisherman said, "Restart of fishing is not enough. I need fuel and labor costs, which worries me a lot. But anyway, I want to go out on the lake."

A town resident said, "We now have only a few tourists who visit our town for wakasagi fishing and our local specialty shijimi dish. The town is suffering a great loss in revenue. At the very least, compensation to local fishermen should be paid now."

The salvage of parts of the aircraft fuel tanks is almost finished, but many townspeople still cannot benefit from fishing-related businesses. Fishermen, processors, dealers, distributors, and restaurants in the town are taking a big blow economically.

On March 6, the assembly of Tohoku Town unanimously adopted a statement requesting that the central government make efforts to determine the cause of the accident, take measures to prevent a recurrence, restore the lake to its previous state, and provide compensation for loss of earnings.

Japanese Communist Party Assemblyperson Ichikawa Toshimitsu said, "This was an accident where we were forced to realize anew that living near military bases is dangerous. In addition to compensation, measures to prevent accidents involving U.S. military aircraft are necessary."

Past related articles:
> JCP in Aomori protests dumping of fuel tanks by US military jet [February 22 & 23, 2018]
> US military jet dumps fuel tanks into lake in Aomori [February 21, 2018]
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