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Japanese, U.S. governments describe Osprey accident as “emergency landing”

Both the Japanese and U.S. governments describe the recent Osprey accident as an “emergency landing.” This is because “U.S. Forces Japan (USFJ) used the word “landing” immediately after the accident,” according to a Defense Ministry official.


U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy told Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida on Dec. 14, “It is regrettable that there was a situation in which an Osprey had to make an emergency landing.” USFJ Commander Lt. Gen. Jerry Martinez explained to Defense Minister Tomomi Inada the same day, “The aircraft was controllable, and the pilot made a water landing at an intended spot.”


In its report on the accident, however, “Stars & Stripes,” a quasi-U.S. military newspaper, used the word “crash,” which means a plane crash. Some media outlets overseas and Okinawa’s local papers reported in a similar way.


According to the Civil Aviation Bureau of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, the Civil Aeronautics Act does not define anything in particular about “crash” and “emergency landing.” “If an airplane makes a landing while the pilot is still controlling the plane, that is an emergency landing, but if it is uncontrollable, that is a crash,” said former Japan Airlines (JAL) captain Fujiaki Yamada, a commentator on aviation affairs. “We cannot say definitely whether it was a crash or an emergency landing until an accident investigation is completed.” Another former JAL captain and aviation affairs commentator Hiroyuki Kobayashi said, “It is appropriate to say “emergency landing” if the pilot decides on his own to ground the airplane somewhere other than a runway and the plane makes a water landing under the pilot’s control to a certain extent.” Kobayashi added, “It is inappropriate to judge whether it is a crash or emergency landing based on the degree of damage to the aircraft body.”


The U.S. government will reportedly conduct a fact-finding investigation. Depending on its outcome, the accident could turn out to be a “crash.”

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