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A U.S. Marine F/A-18 Hornet jet flies low pass during Philippines-US joint military exercise ?Balikatan 2013, Shoulder-to-Shoulder," at Crow Valley Target Range, Capas township, Tarlac province in northern Philippines, Friday April 12, 2013. The annual exercise involves 8,000 Filipino and American soldiers as well as a squadron of fighter jets, and US Navy. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

A Marine Corps jet crashed off the coast of Japan and the pilot is still unaccounted for


A U.S. Marine Corps pilot ejected from his plane before it crashed off the coast of southern Japan Wednesday evening.

The plane crashed 120 miles southeast of Iwakuni, where a Marine air base is located, at about 6:40 p.m. local time (4:40 a.m. EST), according to a Marines statement. A search and rescue operation is underway, and the fate of the pilot is not yet known.

The Marine Corps said the pilot was in the middle of a training exercise "at the time of the mishap."

This incident comes as U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter is in Japan to mark the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. 

Carter also announced that the United States will return nearly 10,000 acres of land to Japan controlled since World War II by the end of the year

However, the training exercise does not appear to be related to the Pearl Harbor anniversary.

The Marines announced the crash in a tweet before releasing the statement.

The Marine Expeditionary Force said the pilot was flying solo.

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