Guidelines Regarding Off-Base US Military Aircraft Accidents in Japan
To promulgate policies and procedures applicable where aircraft crash or are forced to land in Japan outside of facilities or areas in use by the United States (US) armed forces (US facilities or areas).
These Guidelines are applicable to all agencies and personnel of the Government of Japan (GOJ), and of prefectural and other local authorities. These Guidelines are applicable to all US units at US facilities or areas and all personnel described in Article I and Article XIV of the US-Japan SOFA.
3. General Policy.
Aircraft are occasionally forced to land at areas other than their intended destination. When such landings occur, it is necessary for all affected agencies to understand the relevant rules and roles, especially if the aircraft has crashed or if there are injuries involved. Mutual close liaison and coordination is essential among local agencies or authorities related to relief of the victims. In case of forced landings by the US military aircraft, notification to the Japanese authorities in sub-paragraph 4.a. of these Guidelines will be provided and other necessary procedures in these Guidelines will be taken as appropriate.
- Where US military aircraft crash or are forced to land in Japan on public or private property outside of US facilities or areas, appropriate representatives of the US armed forces will be permitted to enter such property without prior authority from GOJ officials or other persons in authority, in order to perform necessary rescue/recovery services and/or to secure US property, provided that every effort shall be made to avoid unnecessary damage to such private and public property. Authorities of the GOJ and of the US armed forces will exercise necessary joint control over such crash or forced landing sites to restrict unauthorized persons from the immediate vicinity of the accident site.
- Where US military aircraft crash or are forced to land in Japan on public or private property outside of US facilities or areas, the local authorities having administrative jurisdiction over the area of the accident will provide necessary services, including rescue, first aid, evacuation, firefighting and police services, as appropriate.
- Notification: At the local level, a two-way notification system will be utilized between the US and Japan that enables the bases, DFABs, Police and Fire Departments and Japan Coast Guard in waters under the jurisdiction of the GOJ to exchange emergency information concerning an off-base aircraft crash or forced landing. The following information will be provided as soon as it becomes known, if relevant to the response.
(1) Type of aircraft to include number of personnel onboard; (2) Location of the accident (precise information is frequently provided from local civilian sources); (3) The approximate amount of fuel onboard the aircraft; (4) Information concerning the amount and type of dangerous cargo or armament that could hinder rescue and firefighting operations; (5) The number, nationality and condition of casualties; and, (6) Other emergency information essential to effect rescue and recovery operations as requirements develop.
- When an aircraft is down off-base, the responsible officials will be as follows:
(1) GOJ. Regarding police services, the local chief of police or his or her designated representative, or a representative of the Japan Coast Guard in waters under the jurisdiction of the GOJ. Regarding fire-fighting and rescue operations, the local chief of fire department or his or her designated representative, or a representative of the Japan Coast Guard in waters under the jurisdiction of the GOJ. (2) US armed forces. The following individuals in order of their arrival at the scene: (a) The aircraft commander or senior person who was on board the downed aircraft and who has not been incapacitated. (b) The US armed forces person in charge of the US response contingent or the senior fire official on the US side if designated as the initial on-scene commander. (c) After initial response actions have been completed, and an investigation team formed, the US armed forces aircraft accident investigator.
- Each responsible official will identify him/herself as such to the other country's responsible official at the earliest possible moment.
- Rescue Operations. The rescue of the aircrew, passengers, and people injured on the ground being of first importance, GOJ and US armed forces responsible officials will permit medical attendants as well as fire-fighting and rescue equipment and personnel to proceed immediately to the scene of the accident.
- Restricting access to accident site. A joint understanding will be reached between the responsible GOJ and US armed forces officials as to the area of the accident site to which entry is to be restricted and the period of such restriction. The following requirements will be considered in arriving at these joint decisions.
(1) Removal of persons injured or killed. (2) Fire-fighting and other actions taken in the interest of safety. (3) Identifying secondary hazardous materiel and if present establishing contamination control capability to prevent spread of contamination. (4) Preventing the compromise of any classified equipment or material. (5) Preserving evidence for aircraft accident investigations and claims investigation. (6) Controlling spectators and others. (7) Insuring the protection of both United States and other public or private property. (8) Serving the best interests of the public and of the US armed forces. (9) Removing the wreckage as soon as possible after the requirements of (4), (5) and (7) have been met. (10) Considering the circumstances, and applying common sense principles, the accident site will be as small as possible and the period of restriction will be as short as possible.
- Accident Site Access Control. The first rescue organization to respond will initially control access to the site and will, to the extent possible consistent with rescue and firefighting operations, preserve the accident site in order to enable the accident investigation team to perform its duties. Site/access control normally involves two cordons; the first being an "inner cordon" around the immediate vicinity of the accident site as defined by safety/hazardous stand-off distances, the second consisting of an "outer cordon" that is established to ensure safety of spectators and promote a smooth flow of traffic (the zone inside an inner/outer cordon is called the restricted/controlled area respectively). Upon the arrival of Japan's law enforcement authorities, they will establish and assume entry control authority for the outer cordon. The inner cordon will be jointly manned except in extraordinary circumstances. Access to the restricted area of the inner cordon will be based on the mutual consent of the US and Japanese responsible officials. The US side will retain control over all wreckage, parts, pieces and debris.
(1) The inner cordon will have one entry control point (ECP) to process entry into the restricted area. Entry into the restricted area will not be allowed at any other location. All personnel manning the inner cordon will be briefed on the location of the ECP and to direct anyone requesting access at a location other than the ECP to proceed to and contact the respective GOJ or US responsible official at the ECP. Responsible officials from both the GOJ and US will be located at the ECP to process and coordinate entry requests. Entry control responsibilities will be as outlined below. (2) The US and Japanese authorities will closely coordinate and perform entry control duties. In general, entry into a restricted area will be limited to those personnel who have a right and need to enter. A request by a non-US armed forces person will be referred to the Japanese responsible official, or his or her delegee, for entry authorization consistent with the introductory part of this sub-paragraph 4.f.. A request by a US armed forces person will be referred to the US responsible official, or his or her delegee, for entry authorization. A Japanese or US person requesting access will be informed of the approval or denial of his or her request by an official of his or her Government, if possible. (3) US armed forces personnel assigned to guard the accident site will be briefed thoroughly as to the limits of the restricted area, the need for diplomacy and tact in handling spectators and others, and the name and location of the US armed forces official to whom a US armed forces person requesting entry should be referred and the name and location of the GOJ official to whom a non-US armed forces person requesting entry should be referred. The fact that GOJ authorities are responsible for controlling all non-US armed forces persons and the importance of working through such GOJ officials will be stressed during this briefing.
- Control of Spectators and others.
(1) The Japanese Police or Coast Guard officials will control the spectators and others who are present at or near accident sites. Pending the arrival of such GOJ authorities, US armed forces personnel may control such spectators and others, within the limits of their authority. (2) When Japanese Police or Coast Guard personnel are present, US armed forces personnel may assist these GOJ officials in controlling spectators and others, if requested. (3) If US authorities request Japanese authorities to prevent any photographs from being taken, Japanese authorities will, after explaining the circumstances to the members of the press and others who intend to photograph the scene (including taking video movies), communicate the US authorities' request to suspend the photographing, without taking any forceful measures except as permitted under Japanese law.
5. Public Affairs.
Establishing effective communication between the media and government officials is critically important in these types of incidents. Responsible officials from the GOJ and US will coordinate in conducting press briefings, media releases, etc. This may involve establishing a media holding area, joint information board or similar type of activity.
6. Drill and Meeting.
US and Japanese authorities and persons concerned will exercise drills periodically in order to implement these Guidelines promptly and precisely in case of unusual occurrences. US and Japanese authorities and persons concerned will have a meeting at least once a year to keep communication between them. Details will be coordinated at the local level.
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