TOKYO (AP) — Japanese authorities handed over pieces of the wreckage from an U.S. Air Force Osprey that crashed off southwestern Japan to the U.S. military on Sunday, as the search continued for seven missing servicemembers. The only body so far recovered has now been formally identified.
The wreckage had been collected by a ship from the regional coast guard headquarters and by fishers from the town of Yakushima since the CV-22 aircraft crashed into the water near the town Wednesday during a training mission to Okinawa.
Japan Coast Guard 10th Regional Headquarters said the unidentified pieces of wreckage, which had been kept at the town hall, were handed over to the U.S. military for further examination. Debris collected by the fishers had been picked up by the U.S. military earlier Sunday, and that collected by the coast guard was also to be handed over later in the day.
The handover is procedure according to the Japan-U.S. Status Forces Agreement, under which Japanese authorities are not given the right to seize or investigate U.S. military property unless the U.S. decides otherwise. That means it will be practically impossible for Japan to investigate the cause of the accident.
The agreement, known as SOFA, has in the past repeatedly made Japanese investigation difficult in criminal cases involving American service members on Okinawa and elsewhere, and has been criticized as unequal by rights activists and others,…