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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 September 25 - October 1  > Papers filed with prosecutors against unidentified captain of crashed US Osprey military aircraft
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2019 September 25 - October 1 [US FORCES]

Papers filed with prosecutors against unidentified captain of crashed US Osprey military aircraft

September 25, 2019
The Japan Coast Guard on September 24 sent the documents pertaining to a U.S. military-related accident to the local public prosecutors office in Okinawa. The JCG accuses an unidentified captain of a U.S. military aircraft of criminal negligence in a crash that occurred in December 2016 in Okinawa. The crash site was only 800 meters away from the nearest house.

The JCG local organization says that it was unable to identify the name of the captain because the U.S. military refused to disclose the necessary information. The Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement stipulates that the U.S. side has the primary right to exercise jurisdiction over accidents which U.S. military personnel in Japan cause on duty. In other words, Japanese law enforcement authorities cannot investigate such cases without the cooperation of the U.S. The JCG attempted to interview the pilot and other crewmembers of the crashed aircraft, but the U.S. side did not allow the JCG to do so.

In December 2016, an MV-22 Osprey stationed at the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma base in Okinawa’s Ginowan City crashed into the shallow waters off Nago City in the prefecture, leaving two of the five crewmembers injured. With the crash site being just 800 meters away from a residential area, just one more misstep would have resulted in a calamity possibly causing loss of life.

The JCG alleges that during the air-to-air refueling drill, the captain of the crippled Osprey neglected his/her duty to properly control the speed of the tilt-rotor aircraft and thus the rotor of the Osprey touched the aerial refueling aircraft, which led to the crash.

Okinawa Governor Tamaki Denny on September 24 in the prefectural government office building said to the press that he will keep demanding a drastic improvement of the SOFA so that Japanese citizens will not have to continue to suffer from lack of oversight.

Past related articles:
> Okinawans hold urgent rally to protest against US Osprey crash in Okinawa [December 18, 2016]
> Osprey crash in Okinawa classified as highest in US military’s accident severity scale [December 16, 2016]
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