Two cargo ships, the Japanese-registered Eifuku Maru Number 18 and Sierra Leone-registered Jia Hui, have crashed about 11km west of Izu Oshima Island, leaving at least five Japanese crew members dead and six crew members missing.
The 500t Eifuku Maru vessel capsized after being hit by the 3,000t foreign vessel.
The Eifuku Maru was travelling from Nagoya in central Japan to Ichikawa in east of Tokyo, while the Jia Hui vessel was moving from Kawasaki in Japan to Busan in South Korea.
The missing persons include the Japanese ship’s skipper Shingo Okawa and deputy skipper Tamao Miki.
The Japanese coast guard sent patrol boats and helicopters to search for the missing crew members.
All the five deceased were crew members of the Japanese vessel, while all the 13 crew members of the Sierra Leonean cargo ship survived the crash.
Japan has arrested a Chinese sailor Xia Hong-bo on suspicion of being negligent while driving the boat at the time of the crash.
Citing Kyodo News Agency, BBC quoted Xia Hong-bo as saying that he was unable to avoid the collision despite efforts to do so.
Japanese coast guard spokesman said they were not sure of what caused the collision.
Japanese Transport Safety Board had already sent officials to the coast guard’s office in Shimoda in southern Shizuoka to investigate the cause of the accident.