STAFF, WRITER – Officials in Tokyo on Friday rushed to gather information about a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet that was reportedly downed by a missile over eastern Ukraine on Thursday, demanding that all relevant parties be allowed to inspect the crash site to determine the cause of the tragedy.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe convened a National Security Council meeting Friday morning to discuss the crash.
“If this is a shoot-down, the international community should strongly condemn it,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference.
“What is important is an investigation to find out the truth about the accident,” he said. “All the parties involved should be allowed to have access to the crash site.”
Government officials checked the names on the list of 283 passengers and 15 crew who were on board the passenger jet, and none of them appear to be Japanese, Suga said.
However, the Japanese Embassy in the Netherlands was still trying to confirm the nationalities of some people who were on the flight, Suga added.
The Malaysian plane crashed in an area of eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian armed separatists. No Japanese airlines regularly fly through the airspace in question, according to Suga.
“Many lives were lost, and this is really heart-wrenching,” Suga said. “We are terribly shocked.”