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Japan refers U.S. military pilot to prosecutors over Osprey crash

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A blatant attempt to inflame public emotions about the US military presence in Okinawa, one of whom is my son, an army officer.

0 ( +19 / -19 )

I'm glad the pilot has not been identified by the US military.

How exactly did the Japanese coast guard make its determination? Did it have access to the wreckage? If not, their accusations are pure speculation.

5 ( +17 / -12 )

A blatant attempt to inflame public emotions about the US military presence in Okinawa, one of whom is my son, an army officer.

These stories always are. Funny we never here about ASDF pilots being referred to prosecutors after they crash.

Perhaks it is time for the US to abandon Japan and move our forces to Guam and Taiwan.

3 ( +15 / -12 )

More a political move than anything of substance here, this too shall pass!

6 ( +13 / -7 )

How do you get any kind of 'suspicion' about how fast a pilot was flying 3 years ago, let alone when it actually happened...?

Unless the Japan Coast Guard was standing there with a radar gun at the time of the crash, they need to sit down, shut up and stop creating drama where there is none.

This is just stupid.

1 ( +15 / -14 )

Unless the Japan Coast Guard was standing there with a radar gun at the time of the crash, they need to sit down, shut up and stop creating drama where there is none.

Radar.

-4 ( +7 / -11 )

Chip Star

Unless the Japan Coast Guard was standing there with a radar gun at the time of the crash, they need to sit down, shut up and stop creating drama where there is none.

Radar.

Make that radars, plural.

Cross referring would give the Japanese investigators a very accurate indication of course, altitude and speed.

The US forces would also have the same information and if it conflicted with what the Japanese are saying, it would be presented smartly.

Gary

9 ( +12 / -3 )

What's the point of this really? They're not going to get the guy. All it will do is raise tensions. It was an accident. I've never heard of a military pilot being referred to civilian prosecutors for an accident while on duty. I believe SOFA actually prevents this.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Just because the case was referred to the public prosecutors does not mean that anything of substance will actually come of it.

Without any cooperation from the US side, it will be impossible for the prosecutors to "prove" their case, and odds are they will drop it, in due time, but it will be used as a political hot-potato by politicians here to make their case against the Osprey, with the people of Okinawa.

This is more about bringing the case back into the public eye than anything else really, as there have been few incidents, recently, with anything to do with the US Military in Okinawa.

Think if this as a mosquito that is buzzing around your head when you try to sleep. Annoying as hell!

3 ( +6 / -3 )

is there such thing as speed limit in the air?

3 ( +6 / -3 )

I've never heard of a military pilot being referred to civilian prosecutors for an accident while on duty. I believe SOFA actually prevents this.

That is true - while the GOJ may indict and try service members for incidents that occur that are not duty related, the SOFA specifically says that the GOJ has no jurisdiction on "official duty" cases - those reside solely with the US.

Per the SOFA, for duty-related incidents, the US submits an official duty certificate that verifies the service member was on official duty.

In this incident, the Coast Guard felt compelled to conclude their criminal investigation - you'll see this occasionally with the Japanese Police and Coast Guard; they know the case won't be prosecuted, but they complete their investigation anyway.

However, the Prosecutors will be forced to turn down the case as the crew were all on official duty.

On the US side, the Accident Investigation Board may make recommendations for holding members liable if they determine they were negligent.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

The incident sparked anger on Okinawa, a strategic outpost of U.S. military power, which hosts more than half of the 47,000 American military personnel in Japan.

Indeed. A nation occupied will never be truly free.

5 ( +13 / -8 )

That Osprey has killed more Marines that the Taliban. We should have kept the CH-46.

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

@ chip star: '..Perhaps it is time for the US to abandon Japan and move our forces to Guam and Taiwan.'

Excellent idea. And while they are at it, get 'em out of the UK, EU and the rest of the world.

Perhaps send them to the moon (they should get a nice tan going through the Van Allen Belt).

In the interim, until they move out of Japan, move them to Fukushima. That might cool their ardour to threaten to nuke everyone and their brother!

0 ( +8 / -8 )

Blame pilot first - one trick pony.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

@ mikmicToday  08:13 am JST

'is there such thing as speed limit in the air?'

Yes, except for 'magic' Boeings that can travel between 400 MPH to over 500 MPH at near ground level, but only on September 11th.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

America will not allow justice to happen.

-8 ( +6 / -14 )

What about the recent F-35A incident? O wait, that was a Japanese and they don't make mistakes.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Indeed. A nation occupied will never be truly free.

its not occupation when theyre there at the invitation of the J government

What about the recent F-35A incident? 

yes correct that was proven to be pilot error are they going to send this to the prosecutor's office also!?

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

But Japanese coast guard officials on Tuesday referred the case to prosecutors on suspicion that the pilot had been flying too fast, causing the crash, a coast guard spokesman said.

I dont think anybody cares what they said. What jurisdiction do they have anyhow?

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Meh.

All kabuki theater.

The J prosecutors get what they want. Which is domestic kudos for "holding the U.S. military accountable".

However, they know full well that the U.S. military will never name the pilot involved, will never turn the pilot over to the Japanese authorities and will do nothing to assist.

So, there will be some J legal proceedings for show....

And then nothing.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@YuriOtani  Oh contraire, the US will not permit a miscarriage of justice.

That it has been sent to the prosecutors may be good – it is an indication that the investigation has wrapped up. There are a lot of these planes in service, and there will be many more. And of course there will be additional accidents – such is the nature of the technology and its use by the military.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

"Perhaks (sic) it is time for the US to abandon Japan and move our forces to Guam and Taiwan." The people of Japan would be eternally grateful if you did so...having US forces here is like having a target painted on our backs.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

There is no way this U.S. Pilot will be disciplined by any Japanese Authority. No one died and it was a U.S. asset that took the loss. They don't even have jurisdiction in this case.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

@lincolnman

Wrong, read the latest version of the SOFA agreement finalized in Nov 2015. Clearly new and important verbiage was added.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

after the Ghosn situation, prosecutors cannot be trusted. In any case they have no expertise in this area.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

@lincolnman

Wrong, read the latest version of the SOFA agreement finalized in Nov 2015. Clearly new and important verbiage was added.

Really? If that was true why don't you post it and provide the SOFA verbiage?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

My recollection is that there has thebeen a number of incidents involving US aircraft and ships too. I can well understand Okinawans being fed up with base being there and wanting it elsewhere.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

America will not allow justice to happen.

Justice cannot happen in Japan given the shortcomings of its "justice" system.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

My recollection is that there has thebeen a number of incidents involving US aircraft and ships too. I can well understand Okinawans being fed up with base being there and wanting it elsewhere.

There will always be "incidents" that is just the nature of the business of preparing for war. It's just the incidents here get blown far out of proportion to the actual event in nearly all the cases after something happens.

YES there have been a few major one's but not as many as people would like to think, particularly after reading articles here.

Hell the press and media here in Okinawa will blow everything out of proportion, dont let it get to you!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The jurisdiction issue aside, as a matter of substantive law, they might just have a case.

From: https://www.nikkei.com/article/DGXMZO50128840U9A920C1ACYZ00/

米側の最終報告書などによると、16年12月13日午後9時すぎ、残り燃料の警告が出たオスプレイが空中給油機と給油ホースを接続しようとし、鹿児島県・与論島の与論空港南東約15キロの海上で、オスプレイのプロペラとホースが接触。同9時半ごろ名護市安部の浅瀬に不時着して大破、搭乗員2人が負傷した。

機長の書類送検容疑は、ホースに近づくため適切な速度を保つ注意義務を怠り、接触してプロペラを損傷させ、着水して機体を破壊させた疑い。

In essence, what happened for sure is that the Osprey dented its propeller on a air refueling hose and crashed. The accusation is that the pilot was negligent in using too high a closure rate, thus causing the crash.

It is at least plausible that both aircraft were tracked on radar, and thus their closure rate determined. It is not out of the question the US pilot was overly aggressive in his closure.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Yeah good luck with that Japan should be happy that the US is here protecting them from the rest of Asia..

1 ( +2 / -1 )

How is this a Civilian matter ?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Radar.

And it took them three years to investigate their clear radar readings? There's nothing to see and they know it. Someone is trying to get political points and wasting time and money in the process. I have Japan's back 99% of the time, but this time, they need to sit back down.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@expat When were you elected to represent the people of Japan?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It is at least plausible that both aircraft were tracked on radar, and thus their closure rate determined. It is not out of the question the US pilot was overly aggressive in his closure.

Not by Japanese radar I will bet. Another thing, there is no precedence for this here in Japan, and while the Coast Guard has police authority here to detain, arrest, and investigate, it does not automatically mean that anything will happen afterwards.

Oh and your wording here, "overly aggressive" that is an assumption on your part correct? Being as neither you nor I are Osprey pilots, no one here knows the actual regulations, and you also do not know either if it was part of the training as well.

So before jumping to assumptions, wait and see what happens!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yes, except for 'magic' Boeings that can travel between 400 MPH to over 500 MPH at near ground level, but only on September 11th.

This conspiracy lives on 18 years later.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Someone is trying to get political points and wasting time and money in the process

ditto. Particularly in this instance where the investigation could never establish whether the tanker 'might' have slowed down rather than the Osprey speeding up. It's all relative.

The pattern of first blaming the pilot is trouble some though, because it means the manufacturers of planes get off and the problem not fixed, until another disaster, such as the F22 oxygen issue, or the 737 Max MCAS.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Sh1mon M4sadaToday 10:13 am JST

ditto. Particularly in this instance where the investigation could never establish whether the tanker 'might' have slowed down rather than the Osprey speeding up. It's all relative.

If there is radar data, then it would be apparent who changed its velocity. As a general principle, aerial refueling has both planes roughly matching speed, but it is the guy needing the fuel that takes initiative in the docking.

The pattern of first blaming the pilot is trouble some though

This is a collision during an aerial refueling. Unless you want to argue the Osprey throttled up by itself, or the tanker slowed down spontaneously, there was a misjudgment of some kind involved.

@YubaruToday 06:29 am JST

Not by Japanese radar I will bet.

Why are you so certain? They were supposed to be pretty close to Okinawa when this all happened.

Oh and your wording here, "overly aggressive" that is an assumption on your part correct?

I said "it is not out of the question" and that they "might have a case" (since everyone is so certain this is politically motivated), not that this is a proven fact or that I've convicted Pilot in my mind already.

Being as neither you nor I are Osprey pilots, no one here knows the actual regulations, and you also do not know either if it was part of the training as well.

Fortunately (at least for this question), Japan is buying Ospreys and so should presumably have some information on this regard. It is also a plausible reason why this took so long to process - getting the MoD to shoot over some information about Osprey handling and regulations. And since when is "intentionally closing faster than the regulated speed in an aerial refueling" a training topic?

=

Speaking of generalities, the Americans do have a bad history of refusing to initiate (or if initiated convict) American servicemen even when it is conceded Mistakes Were Made.

1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ehime_Maru_and_USS_Greeneville_collision

2) https://www.rokdrop.net/2008/06/gi-flashback-2002-armored-vehicle-accident/

0 ( +1 / -1 )

If dragging this to court seems like over-zealous ridiculousness its still far less ridiculous than the gross over-protection the U.S. military is provided with and is a result of it.

its not occupation when theyre there at the invitation of the J government

The people of Okinawa sharply disagree with the federal government. In essence, they are occupied by both the U.S. military AND their own government. And that is assuming the Japanese government itself is not being coerced by the U.S. government, and I don't make that assumption.

At any rate, given dictatorial governments, its the feeling of the people that matters when defining an occupation, not the few who hold power despite what the people want.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Why are you so certain? They were supposed to be pretty close to Okinawa when this all happened.

I suppose you know that the airspace around Okinawa is pretty much controlled by the US,.

Fortunately (at least for this question), Japan is buying Ospreys and so should presumably have some information on this regard.

Oh? So you are the one buying them? I never mentioned anything about Japan, I said YOU.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The people of Okinawa sharply disagree with the federal government. In essence, they are occupied by both the U.S. military AND their own government.

Last time I looked Okinawa is still a part of Japan. And on that note, Okinawa is responsible for bearing the burden of providing security for the southern door of Japan.

It also helps to understand what the word "deterrence" means as well

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

If there is radar data, then it would be apparent who changed its velocity

Radar resolution when the two planes are yards apart? I doubt it. Blackbox data, may be...but then you still can't establish whether one is slowing down or another speeding up and vice versa.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@Yubaru Today 01:41 pm JST

There are indeed large patches of sky allocated to American exercises, but they are still close to Okinawa and is likely to be within its sweep.

Since the topic is about Japan putting together the prosecution case, it is more important the Japanese might plausibly know than me. As for us, we don't have the prosecution casefile, and without it, we can only make extremely approximate guesses as to whether they might have enough information for a substantive case.

@Yubaru Today 01:43 pm JST

Deterrence or not, a prefecture is not "responsible" for the national defense. National defense is the responsibility of the national government.

As an aside:

Chip StarSep. 25 06:59 am JST

These stories always are. Funny we never here about ASDF pilots being referred to prosecutors after they crash.

It has happened:

事故原因の究明が行なわれ、編隊長のブレイクコールは通常より約3秒遅れ、墜落か生還かの分岐点から0.9秒遅れだった[72]。この短い時間を過失に問えるかどうかが問題となった[71]。当初は事故調査に対してどのパイロットも非協力的だった[73]が、静岡地方検察庁の杉本一重が「0.9秒の遅れがどのようなものかが分からないと公訴事案とするかの判断が出来ない」と考え[74]、実際にアクロバット飛行訓練に体験搭乗した後は、一転してブルーインパルスのパイロットは調査に協力的になったという[75]。

(from https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%83%96%E3%83%AB%E3%83%BC%E3%82%A4%E3%83%B3%E3%83%91%E3%83%AB%E3%82%B9)

On a more general note, when Atago collided with a fishing boat, they did prosecute the MSDF officers involved. Overall, SDF officers don't nearly get the same effective immunity as US officers seem to get.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

a SOFA is there for these kind of situations, otherwise, your going down a rabbit hole of who has jurisdiction, especially in mickey mouse Japan. A uniformed member, on duty, flying US goverment property...good luck on prosecuting that. SOFA people basically never left the US; they dont pay Japanese taxes and are subject to the UCMJ. There are exceptions to jurisdiction, and sometimes the US makes an example out of some, but, I mean think about it, how can the Japanese judicial system have any jurisdiction over a US citizen who is property of the US government?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Deterrence or not, a prefecture is not "responsible" for the national defense. National defense is the responsibility of the national government.

Correct, but you are playing games with words here to escape the fact that as a part of Japan, Okinawa is responsible for assisting with that defence, through the use of it's land and infrastructure.

How that defense is setup and administered is purely the under the control of the national government.

You and anyone else, that thinks Okinawa will ever be "base free" are just like the folks dancing around a beach campfire singing "kumbaya!" and partaking of their favorite inhalants!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@TheLongTermer Sep. 26 08:29 pm JST

how can the Japanese judicial system have any jurisdiction over a US citizen who is property of the US government?

US citizens are "owned" by the US government? We are not going to even pretend they have control? :-)

To the essence of the issue, the other side of the coin is that they are working on foreign soil, and the victims of their mistakes are likely to be the locals rather than an American citizen. Though in this case, it seems the only victims are indeed Americans since the crash happened in the ocean.

Remember the printable part of jurisdiction is that the winning jurisdiction is better qualified to listen to the case. Since this is (at least de jure) happening under foreign sovereignty, the US jurisdiction should be interpreted as permission to substitute (key word) the sovereign government in the task of administering justice. The United States should occasionally self reflect on whether she is doing this substitution properly and in good faith, or is she exploiting it as a means of getting its own people off.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A Stars & Stripes article about this incident is available at https://www.military.com/daily-news/2019/09/25/japan-coast-guard-seeks-charges-marine-osprey-pilot-involved-2016-crash.html

The S&S article states "Responsibility for the crash was determined to rest solely with the pilot. Marine officials never commented on the pilot's status or whether the pilot was punished."

The article also states "The pilot was able to limp 18 miles back to Okinawa, but put the tilt-rotor aircraft down into the sea rather than fly over a residential area to reach Marine Corps Air Station Futenma."

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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