Helicopter crash "regrettable," needs thorough probe: Defense Minister

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said Monday that the crash of a U.S. military helicopter in Okinawa Prefecture was "regrettable" and called for a thorough probe into the accident.

"As any crash of aircraft could be a dangerous accident, proper preventive measures are important," Onodera told reporters at the ministry after a HH-60 rescue helicopter of the U.S. Air Force helicopter crashed within the Camp Hansen complex.

As for the impact of the crash on the defense policy of Japan and the United States, Onodera did not provide a clear answer, only saying a "thorough investigation into the cause is needed first."

The crash happened at a time when a second batch of 12 U.S. Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft of the U.S. Maine Corps is being deployed to Okinawa despite opposition by the local people.