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SDF member taking part in joint drill with U.S., Philippine troops, dies after crash

Kyodo

The Ground Self-Defense Force said one of its members succumbed to his injuries and died late Saturday night as a result of an automobile accident that occurred last week while he was participating in a joint exercise with U.S. and Filipino soldiers in the Philippines.

It is the first time a GSDF member has died in an accident while participating in a drill overseas.

Sgt. 1st Class Suguru Maehara, 38, was injured in a crash Tuesday during bad weather while traveling in a large-size vehicle driven by a Filipino man near Subic Bay Naval Base on Luzon Island, according to the GSDF. The sergeant belonged to the GSDF’s Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade.

Another SDF member, who is in his 40s and who belongs to the Central Transportation Command, suffered a fractured bone in the accident, Japanese officials said.

The vehicle Maehara was traveling in hit another vehicle on a curved section of road during a squall when visibility was poor, officials said.

The trilateral joint exercise is aimed at enhancing capabilities to respond to disasters. About 80 GSDF members are taking part in the drills.

Maehara had been participating in the exercise since Sept. 18, taking part in logistical support and other missions.

The amphibian brigade, launched in March this year with the aim of protecting Japan’s remote islands, is based in the city of Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture.