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U.S. Fighter Mistakenly Shot Down By Japanese Navy Vessel

June 4, 1996

TOKYO (AP) _ A Japanese navy vessel accidently shot down a U.S. fighter jet today during a joint military exercise, but the two American crewmembers were rescued, Japanese defense officials said.

The A-6 Navy fighter was towing a target and a destroyer mistakenly hit the plane instead, said Japanese defense spokesman Taisuke Takesoko.

The U.S. military in Japan was referring all calls to the exercise operations center in Hawaii, where telephone calls were not being answered.

Japan Defense Agency official Tsutomu Sugiyama said eight Japanese escort vessels, a supply ship, flying corps, eight submarine chasers and one submarine were participating in the month-long exercises, which began May 22.

Defense officials said other details, such as the type of naval vessel or the cause of the accident, were not yet known.

The annual maneuvers _ called RIMPAC, for Rim of the Pacific _ were launched by Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Canada in 1971. New Zealand later withdrew from the group; Japan has been participating since 1980.

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