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Santa Claus has “landed in shallow water” off the coast of Okinawa after a problem during an “airborne refueling drill”, according to official sources.

Defense Minister Tomomi Inada says she understands the water landing was Santa’s own decision, and therefore not a crash of a sleigh that lost control.

Governor Takeshi Onaga disputes the “landing” claim saying the sleigh was found separated from the reindeer with Santa laying unconscious on a rock.

The Defense Ministry does not clearly distinguish between crashes and forced landings, but a senior official insisted the sleigh did make a landing despite all nine reindeer suffering injuries.

Commanding general of the third Marine Expeditionary Force Lawrence Nicholson said Santa should be applauded for “choosing to land the sleigh in the water instead of flying over civilian homes”.

Okinawan residents are now fearful Santa may deliver their Christmas presents via Osprey.

Image: DPNow/Mowgli