TOKYO (AP) -- A senior U.S. Air Force officer apologized Friday to the mayor of a town in northern Japan where a fighter jet crashed earlier this week. Japanese officials demanded an investigation.
David Pulliam, 35th Support Group commander, told Kamaishi Mayor Takeyoshi Noda that he regretted the accident and the trouble it caused to the residents in the area, a city spokesman said.An Air Force F-16 on Thursday slammed into a forest in the town of Kamaishi, south of the city of Misawa, 350 miles northeast of Tokyo, in the second crash in as many days involving U.S. military jets.
The Air Force Friday began an investigation into what caused the F-16 crash, while suspending all flight operations by the 35th fighter wing at Misawa Air Base, where the jet was based, for inspection.
The pilot, Maj. Richard Fenton, suffered minor injuries as he ejected from the jet and is listed in good condition, the Air Force said. It would not disclose his hometown.
Noda demanded a thorough investigation into the accident and a full report on the results, as well as compensation for damages it caused to the environment in felled trees and spilled fuel, city spokesman Mamoru Yamada said.
Noda also asked the U.S. Air Force to suspend flight exercises in the region for the time being.
Late Thursday, a senior Foreign Ministry official complained about the accidents to the U.S. military and demanded a thorough investigation. Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiromu Nonaka said separately that Japan takes the accidents very seriously.
Air Force Col. Steve Wood promised efforts to ensure safety.
On Wednesday, a U.S. Marine FA-18 Hornet collided with another military jet during training and crashed into the Pacific Ocean off southwestern Japan.
The pilot of the jet that crashed was rescued. The other jet landed safely at a Marine base.