The mayor of a small town in northern Japan has demanded that the United States ground its fighter jets at a nearby airbase after an F-16 jettisoned external fuel tanks into a lake.

Fishermen on Lake Ogawara, close to the Misawa Air Base, reported that the two fuel tanks hit the lake about 180m away from where their boats were gathering freshwater clams.

There were no injuries, although a small oil slick and parts of the fuel tanks were found in the lake.

"We have lots of fishermen. One wrong step could result in a catastrophe," Koji Ebina, the mayor of Tohoku, in Aomori prefecture, said.

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The local fisheries association has suspended fishing until the fuel is cleaned up, Ebina said, adding that they would be seeking compensation.

The Government expressed its anger over the fuel tank dumping in response to a fire on board the plane. It is the latest in a string of incidents involving US military or Japan's Self-Defence Forces.

Two weeks ago, a Japanese military helicopter crashed into a residential area in Saga prefecture, killing the two-man crew. During January, US helicopters made three emergency landings and a door from a helicopter landed in a school playground.

- Telegraph Group Ltd