A U.S. military Osprey aircraft crashed into the ocean near the southern Japanese island of Yakushima on Wednesday with eight people on board, Japan’s coast guard said. The U.S. military in Japan offered no immediate comment on the incident, but Japanese coast guard spokesperson Kazuo Ogawa was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying the agency had received an emergency call from a fishing boat reporting the crash.
Ogawa said it was unclear what happened to the aircraft or the eight people believed to have been on board, but coast guard personnel were heading to the scene.
An Osprey can take off and land vertically but change the angle of its twin rotors to fly as a turbo prop plane once airborne.
The Japanese governmenta new $8.6 billion, five-year host-nation support budget to cover the cost of hosting American troops in the country, reflecting a growing emphasis on integration between the two countries’ forces and a focus on joint response and deterrence amid rising threats from China, and .
It was not confirmed which U.S. base in Japan the Osprey was flying from, but AFP said it was believed to be heading to Okinawa, in the same island chain as Yakushima. The U.S. military’s Kadena Air Base, its most important and largest base in the region, is in Okinawa.