The Japanese Coast guards has reported a crash of a US Military Osprey into the sea 9ff the Southern Coast of Japa with eight onboard.
“We received information today at 14:47 (local time) that an American military Osprey crashed near Yakushima Island,” a coastguard spokesperson told AFP. “Eight people comprised the crew.” Coastguard planes and boats were dispatched to the crash site.
“The government is confirming the tragedy,” announced Japanese government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno, “with the main objective of saving lives.”
According to Japan’s NHK public broadcaster, the aircraft – a vertical take-off and landing half-plane, half-helicopter – originated from the US Naval Air Station Iwakuni near Hiroshima, western Japan. It was headed for another US military base in Okinawa, at the southwestern tip of the Japanese archipelago. Furthermore, NHK identified the aircraft specifically as an Osprey CV-22 belonging to another US airbase in Japan, Yokota, near Tokyo.
The Osprey, the result of a collaboration between American aeronautics manufacturer Boeing and helicopter specialist Bell, has long been controversial due to its involvement in several fatal accidents. This past August, three US Marines died in an Osprey accident in northern Australia.
The US military currently stations around 54,000 soldiers in Japan, the majority of whom are based in the southern archipelago of Okinawa.
There have been previous incidents and accidents involving US military aircraft in Japan, including Ospreys, which due to their ongoing safety issues, are viewed critically by the Japanese public, particularly in Okinawa.