The shooting took place during a live-fire training exercise and several other people were wounded, the SDF confirmed to CNN. The cadet was arrested and the motive has yet to be established, authorities said.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said the incident happened around 9 a.m. at a shooting range in Hino City in the central Japanese prefecture of Gifu.
Two servicemen, ages 25 and 52, died in the incident, according to the Gifu Naka police station. Another 25-year-old man from the same garrison was also wounded.
“This kind of incident should never happen in an organization that handles weapons,” the SDF’s Chief of Staff Yasunori Morishita said in a televised press conference.
He said an investigation committee will be set up to examine the incident and prevent similar events from occurring in future.
Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported that the suspect was a teenage member of the SDF who allegedly fired an automatic rifle.
Gun violence is extremely rare in Japan, a country of 125 million people. It has one of the lowest rates of gun crimes in the world due to its extremely strict gun control laws.
But a string of high profile violent crimes have recently been reported in the country.
Last month, four people – including two police officers – died in a shooting and stabbing incident in Nakano City in central Japan.
In 2022, nine incidents involving firearms took place in Japan – including the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who was shot dead with a homemade gun during a campaign speech – according to the National Police Agency.
Of the nine incidents, six are believed to have been committed by gangs and other groups. In total, four people were killed and two injured in the nine incidents.