Apr. 15 Okinawa Governor protests fatal incident involving U.S. solider, resulting in local apprehension

April 15, 2019 Ryukyu Shimpo online edition

On April 13 the dead bodies of a U.S. Navy sailor assigned to a Marine unit in Okinawa and a Japanese woman were found in an apartment in Kuwae, Chatan Town. It appears the sailor fatally stabbed the woman and killed himself. Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki called Okinawa Area Coordinator (OAC) Eric Smith and Consul General of the U.S. to Naha Robert Koepcke to the Prefectural Office on April 15, and made a protest to these U.S. military officials regarding the incident.
Governor Tamaki touched on the 2016 incident in which a young Okinawan woman was sexually assaulted and killed by a former Marine, saying, “With that still fresh in our memory, the occurrence of this kind of incident causes many Okinawans to feel great apprehension and resentment.”
In February this year the U.S. military in Okinawa loosened the restrictions of the Liberty Policy, which regulates the activity of U.S. soldiers when they are off-duty. Even in light of this incident OAC Smith did not express any intent to reinstate these regulations as a countermeasure to future incidents.
In response to the incident Governor Tamaki said, “I want the entire military to tighten discipline and conduct human rights education to remove the apprehension it causes Okinawans.” He demanded that the U.S. military and U.S. and Japanese governments take responsibility by taking drastic preventative measures. Additionally, he spoke about the U.S. military in Okinawa relaxing the Liberty Policy, saying he wants the circumstances verified. He mentioned that although Okinawans are always demanding tighter discipline, Mr. Smith called it his responsibility over the phone. Because of this, Governor Tamaki thinks the U.S. military will thoroughly investigate and dependably communicate.
OAC Smith offered an apology over the matter, and expressed willingness to completely cooperate with the prefectural police’s investigation.
(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)

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