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Japan Coast Guard Mourns Crew Members Who Died in Runway Collision; JAL Says Its Plane Was Given Landing Permission

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Japan Coast Guard Vice Commandant Yoshio Seguchi, left, bows at the beginning of a press conference in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward on Tuesday night.

A Japan Coast Guard official on Tuesday expressed his deep sadness at the loss of five crew members aboard a JCG aircraft that collided with a Japan Airlines plane at Haneda Airport, while a JAL representative said its aircraft had been cleared for landing before the accident.

The airline and the JCG, accompanied by the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry, each held separate press conferences at the ministry in Tokyo on Tuesday evening, in response to the collision earlier in the day.

The JCG has confirmed the accident and the death of five of six crew members aboard the aircraft.

“I offer my deepest apologies. The loss of the irreplaceable lives of our staff is extremely regrettable,” Vice Commandant Yoshio Seguchi said at the JCG’s press conference, which began around 9:15 p.m.

Regarding the evacuation of passengers and crew from the JAL plane, a ministry official said, “I believe that all the people aboard were able to escape in a short time before the fire broke out [inside the plane] because proper instructions were given.”

Meanwhile, Noriyuki Aoki, JAL’s General Affairs Division chief, said at the company’s press conference, “We understand that our aircraft had been cleared for landing.”

According to Tadayuki Tsutsumi, chief of JAL’s Corporate Safety and Security Division, the airline interviewed the crew and no one reported abnormalities with the plane before the flight.

“We confirmed that the accident occurred when the aircraft entered [the airspace above the runway] as usual and began landing operations,” said Tsutsumi.

The JCG said its aircraft had been scheduled to deliver food and water for relief efforts following Monday’s earthquakes in Ishikawa Prefecture.

“An unprecedented accident has occurred,” said a JCG official. “We shouldn’t have disrupted relief efforts.”

“The [JCG] crew members were fulfilling their duties to aid people affected by the disaster with a strong sense of commitment and responsibility. [Their deaths] are a tragedy,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters at the Prime Minister’s Office. As for the transport of relief supplies, he added, “We will do our utmost to prevent any impact.”

“The Japan Transport Safety Board and police are proceeding with their investigations,” said Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Tetsuo Saito. “The ministry will also take great pains to probe the cause of the accident and to implement measures to prevent a recurrence.”

“It’s unfortunate for one disaster to lead to another,” Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said in an interview at the Tokyo metropolitan government building on the day.

JCG’s 3rd Regional Coast Guard Headquarters via Jiji Press
The Japan Coast Guard’s MA722 aircraft
The Japan News
Japan Airlines’ A350-900 aircraft at Haneda Airport