Replacement for Missing GSDF Division Chief Named Following Helicopter Accident

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Ground Self-Defense Force Chief of Staff Gen. Yasunori Morishita speaks at a press conference on April 6.

Ground Self-Defense Force Chief of Staff Gen. Yasunori Morishita has announced the names of two officers who will take over posts following an accident involving a GSDF helicopter that was carrying several senior personnel in Okinawa Prefecture earlier this month.

Maj. Gen. Shinichi Aoki, head of the 11th Brigade, has been assigned to oversee the GSDF’s 8th Division, in place of Lt. Gen. Yuichi Sakamoto, who was aboard the helicopter that disappeared from radar near Miyako Island on April 6.

Morishita also announced that Col. Masahito Iyota, commanding officer of the 15th Brigade based on Miyako, was aboard the aircraft on the day of the accident. Col. Hayato Higa, who headed the 5th Engineer Group, has been appointed the brigade’s new commanding officer.

Morishita said the replacements were “based on a comprehensive assessment of the situation, taking into account ongoing duties in the southwestern region and the search operation, amid an increasingly severe security environment.”