All four crewmembers are believed to have survived following a Japanese helicopter crash, which took place at an American base on the southern island of Okinawa.
- (PHOTO:YouTube Clip/Pentagon Channel)
Smoke seen rising form the Camp Hansen base in Japan has been identified as a plane crash involving an HH-60 rescue helicopter, U.S. Air Force officials confirmed. The aircraft belongs to Okinawa's Kadena Air Base and was on an unspecified mission before the crash occurred. The frame of the helicopter was seen ablaze in television footage, although all four crewmembers on the aircraft appear to have survived. It is unclear at this point what caused the crash.
Japan has filed an official complaint to the U.S. over the crash according to Fox News. Anti-U.S. military sentiment is already strong in Okinawa, but it was heightened recently after the U.S. announced 12 additional placements of MV-22 Osprey transport aircrafts in the base. Protesters gathered near the fence of the base Tuesday, opposing the new Osprey deployments.
"We knew it was going to happen sooner or later," Kadena Mayor Hiroshi Toyama said according to the Huffington Post, referring to Monday's crash.
The Japanese government requested an investigation into the crash and asked the U.S. to stop flying similar aircraft until the results of the investigation could be brought to light.
"We have asked the U.S. not to fly the same aircraft until they find out the cause of the accident and take preventive steps," Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters Tuesday.
They also raised opposition to further Osprey deployments until the cause of the crash was made clear.
The U.S. has an estimated 50,000 troops at the Japan airbase according to Fox. Other complains have arisen about the base including crime, excessive noise, an accidents.
No other civilian injuries have been reported. Flying activities were suspended Tuesday at Kadena, according to an Air Force statement.