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Japanese PM in PLANE ALERT: Wing panel FALLS OFF Shinzo Abe’s Boeing 747

Officials noticed the panel was missing from the Boeing 747, one of two jetliners used by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for foreign trips, after it flew from Tokyo to its base on the northern island of Hokkaido.

A spokesman for the Japan Air Self Defence Force (ASDF) said the part, measuring 15in by 10in has not been found. 

It is believed to be an access panel near the pylon connecting one of the engines to the right wing.

The ASDF spokesman said the air force would conduct an urgent investigation to determine why the panel had fallen off Mr Abe’s plane.

The PM was travelling with government officials and Japanese business representatives on a six-day trip to Eastern Europe including stops in Estonia, Lithuania, Serbia and Romania.

The scare comes after a string of incidents involving US aircraft based on Japan’s southern island of Okinawa prompted Japan’s Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera to ask his US counterpart James Mattis to implement measures that would prevent any recurrences.

Those incidents, which included a window falling from a helicopter onto a school playground last month, have fuelled public opposition to the US presence on the strategically located island at the edge of the East China Sea.

Japan has ordered two Boeing 777 planes to replace the ageing jumbos after March 2019.

The Japanese delegation landed in safely in Estonia without further incident. It is understood that Mr Abe was not aboard the plane that lost the panel.

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