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Japan's ASDF plans compensation over cars stained by Blue Impulse color smoke

The Japan Air Self-Defense Force's Blue Impulse aerobatics team is seen flying above central Tokyo, in this photo taken at the Ministry of Defense in the capital's Shinjuku Ward on Aug. 24, 2021, the day of the Tokyo Paralympic Games' opening ceremony. (Mainichi/Kota Yoshida)
A red dot apparently caused by a dye particle from colored smoke is seen under a piece of blue tape on a white car near the Air Self-Defense Force's Iruma Base in Saitama Prefecture, in this photo provided by the Air Staff Office.

TOKYO -- Japan's Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF) announced Nov. 19 it is planning to compensate owners for damage to their cars sustained in August when the Blue Impulse aerobatics team sprayed color smoke at low altitudes near Iruma Base in Saitama Prefecture.

    The ASDF judged that dye particles in the smoke in three colors had "very likely" stained vehicles, and said it will examine the number of cars eligible for compensation and the amount to be paid. The Blue Impulse team's main unit had just performed on the opening day of the Tokyo Summer Paralympics when the incident occurred.

    According to the ASDF, it received inquiries for upwards of 1,100 vehicles regarding particles from the colored smoke -- each up to about 0.5 millimeters in diameter -- landing on vehicles. The chemical components of the particles were analyzed, but the amounts were too small to determine definitively if they were color smoke dyes.

    However, based on the flight path and smoke diffusion projections, the ASDF judged it extremely likely that the particles were dye from the smoke. It will check how badly stained each vehicle is.

    The color smoke was improperly sprayed by three reserve Blue Impulse jets, which had been flying in the vicinity of the team's six-jet performance over central Tokyo. Just before landing at Iruma Base on the afternoon of Aug. 24, the three reserve jets sprayed the smoke at altitudes under the 300-meter minimum. The dyes cannot be removed with water or detergents, so the cars must be repainted.

    Officers in charge of the reserve jets have explained that they "wanted to use up the colored smoke" and to "please the locals." The ASDF is considering punishing those concerned.

    The Ministry of Defense is accepting inquiries about the matter by phone between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays at 03-3268-3111 (ext. 60158 or 61092, in Japanese).

    (Japanese original by Yoshitake Matsuura, Tokyo City News Department)

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