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Fishermen to claim 93 mil. yen in damages over US jet's tanks drop

In this photo provided by the Lake Ogawara fisheries cooperative, a piece of metal that fell from a U.S. F-16 fighter plane stationed at Misawa Air Base is seen on Feb. 20, 2018, at Lake Ogawara in Aomori Prefecture.

AOMORI, Japan (Kyodo) -- Fishermen in northeastern Japan are set to seek about 93 million yen ($840,000) in damages over the February dumping of fuel tanks by a U.S. fighter jet that forced them to halt fishing, a local Defense Ministry bureau said Monday.

More than 180 members of a fisheries cooperative in Aomori Prefecture will seek a total of 93.23 million yen for suspension of their clam and other seafood fishing operations in a local lake for about a month following the Feb. 20 incident, according to the Tohoku Defense Bureau.

An engine fire caused an F-16 fighter jet belonging to the U.S. Misawa Air Base to dump two fuel tanks in Lake Ogawara.

Under the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement, Washington is supposed to shoulder 75 percent of the total damages caused by its military in the performance of official duties in Japan, with Tokyo covering the rest, if the United States alone is responsible.

The amount of compensation will be finalized after the Defense Ministry examines the validity of the cooperative's claim and negotiates with the United States. The group has yet to submit the official request.

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera had pledged to compensate the local fishermen for their losses caused by the dumping.

Units of Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force and the U.S. forces had recovered some 95 percent of the parts of the tanks from the lake before the fishing was restarted on March 22.

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