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Japan: Halt Flights of US Helicopter Involved in Crash

A U.S. military helicopter fights the fire following a crash by another U.S. military CH-46 helicopter, inside Camp Hansen in central Okinawa, on Japan's southern island, in this photo taken by Kyodo, Japan, Aug. 5, 2013.
Japan is asking the United States to suspend all flights of the type of helicopter involved in a deadly crash on the island of Okinawa.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday the suspension should be in place until Washington finds out what caused the HH-60 helicopter to crash a day earlier near a U.S. training base.

The U.S. Air Force says three of the four members on board were rescued. The search for the fourth was called off after human remains were found near the crash site.

The accident has also prompted Japanese officials to ask the U.S. to delay the deployment of a separate, controversial hybrid aircraft that has been plagued by safety concerns.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga says Tokyo asked Washington to delay the deployment of the Osprey aircraft "to take heed of local concerns."

Many residents in Okinawa oppose the use of the planes, which suffered four separate crashes killing about 30 people between 1991 and 2000. The U.S. military insists on the safety of the Osprey, which takes off like a helicopter and flies like a propeller plane.

About 200 Okinawans held a fresh protest Tuesday near Futenma Air Base, where the Osprey has been based.

The incident has renewed calls by many Okinawans to spread the 47,000 U.S. troops in Japan more evenly across the country. Currently, the island hosts more than half that figure.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.