Japan Navy Helicopter Crash: One Dead, Seven Missing

Two Japanese military helicopters crashed, possibly colliding, leaving one person dead and seven missing, officials confirmed.

According to a spokesperson for Japan’s self-defense force, the incident occurred late on Saturday, with one person recovered and later confirmed deceased.

Defence Minister holds press conference

Minoru Kihara, the defense minister, stated that rescuers had identified what is believed to be parts of the aircraft in the sea, indicating a collision between the two helicopters.

Japan Navy
Japanese Defense Minister Minoru Kihara holds a press conference in Tokyo on April 23, 2024. (Photo by Kyodo News via Getty Images)

“At this point, the cause is unknown, but firstly, we do our best to save lives,” Kihara said.

The minister explained that the helicopters were engaged in drills aimed at countering submarines during nighttime operations.

Hours later, Kihara updated reporters, confirming that the crew member who was rescued had succumbed to their injuries.

Japan Navy
Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ship searching for two MSDF helicopters in waters east of Torishima Island in the Izu Island chain in the Pacific. (Photo by Kyodo News via Getty Images)

The ministry has recovered flight recorders and is currently analyzing the cause of the incident, including the possibility of a collision between the two helicopters.

The helicopters crashed during a night-time training exercise near the Izu islands in the Pacific, as reported by NHK.

Communication with one of the helicopters was lost at 10:38 PM near Torishima island, with an emergency signal received just one minute later, according to NHK.

Adm. Ryo Sakai, chief of staff of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, holds a press conference at the Defense Ministry in Tokyo on April 23, 2024, after two MSDF helicopters crashed during a drill in the Pacific on April 20. (Photo by Kyodo News via Getty Images)

Approximately 25 minutes later, the military realized that communication with the other helicopter was also lost in the same area.

The Mitsubishi SH-60K helicopters primarily operate from naval destroyers.

The navy has stated that since there were no other aircraft or vessels in the nearby waters, the involvement of another country in the incident is unlikely.

Japan’s defense spending is on the rise, and it’s deepening cooperation with the US and other Asian countries in response to increased assertiveness from China in the region and the unpredictability of North Korea.

In April 2023, a Japanese army helicopter carrying 10 individuals crashed off Miyako island in southern Okinawa, resulting in no survivors.

Arit Saha
Arit Saha
Arit Saha, an Economics graduate and budding content writer in Kolkata, deftly merges his passions for economics and global politics. He crafts engaging content weaving economic insights into geopolitical narratives. Contact: [email protected]
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