TOKYO -- Mainichi Shimbun reporters have captured a U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter flying over congested JR Shinjuku Station in Tokyo amid findings that U.S. military helicopters have been repeatedly flying in central Tokyo at low altitudes that would be illegal for Japanese aircraft.
In the latest video footage that the Mainichi Shimbun has released, which was recorded October last year from the observatory room of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building at a height of 202 meters, a Black Hawk can be seen flying at the same altitude as the Defense Ministry's communications tower which stands at a height of 220 meters in the Ichigaya area of Shinjuku Ward.
Since Feb. 24 this year, the Mainichi Shimbun has been reporting on U.S. military helicopters flying at low altitude in central Tokyo with video footage to prove that such flights have been conducted. In response to our coverage, Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Defense Ministry have demanded that the U.S. government investigate into the facts, but the finalized answer from the U.S. has not been released. Under such circumstances, the Mainichi Shimbun will publish unreleased videos in a series capturing U.S. military aircraft's low-altitude flights.
Japan's Civil Aeronautics Act stipulates that in densely populated areas, the minimum safety altitude for flying is 300 meters above the upper point of the highest obstacle, and an aircraft must fly above that.
Sometime past 1 p.m. on Oct. 26, 2020, a Black Hawk flew by the Defense Ministry's communications tower standing at a height of about 220 meters, keeping the same altitude. This means that a U.S. military helicopter was flying near Japan's defense base at low altitude.
The same Black Hawk then flew over Shinjuku Station as it gradually lowered its altitude and passed between the nearby metropolitan government's first main building, which stands at a height of approximately 243 meters, and the 270-meter-tall NTT Docomo Yoyogi Building. The distance between the two buildings is about 1,100 meters, and as the minimum safety altitude is applied to an area within a radius of 600 meters from the aircraft, flying between those two buildings would be illegal for Japanese helicopters.
(Japanese original by Hiroyuki Oba, Tokyo City News Department and Takahiro Kato, Video Group)