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Japan vows more openness on US military sex crimes

Tokyo has admitted that it failed to inform local authorities about crimes perpetrated by American troops

The Japanese government has pledged to stop withholding information from regional authorities on sex crimes committed by US military personnel stationed in the country, after acknowledging at least five such cases this year in Okinawa.

The southernmost prefecture hosts 70% of all US military facilities in Japan, while comprising just 1% of the country’s territory.

On Thursday, Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa held an emergency press conference, announcing that the government was “thinking about how information [on such crimes and incidents] can be better shared” with prefectures. She also promised to implement unspecified additional measures to prevent US troops from abusing local women. Tokyo will unveil its decisions in the coming days, the diplomat added.

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Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki met with Kamikawa on Wednesday, denouncing what he described as an “extremely big problem.” The minister assured him that the central government was reaching out to the US to rein in their military personnel, according to local media. She also reportedly claimed to be “filled with an intolerable sense of gravity” amid a recent string of sex crimes involving US troops in the prefecture.

Last month, the media revealed that a US Air Force soldier had been indicted back in March on charges of kidnapping and raping an underage girl in Okinawa, a crime dating back to December 2023. Another similar case that only recently came to light involved a US marine, arrested in May on suspicion of attempted rape resulting in injury.

Local police and the Foreign Ministry, which had also been aware of the incidents, chose not to disclose the information to the prefectural government, citing the need to protect the victims’ privacy.

Details of three other sex abuse cases at the hands of US military personnel were similarly withheld from regional authorities, the government acknowledged on Tuesday.

On Thursday, Okinawa prefectural police said they had detained a 22-year-old private first class of the U.S. Marine Corps for groping a woman while under the influence of alcohol.

The Japanese opposition has been quick to accuse the government of a cover-up, with a protest rally held outside the Okinawa Prefectural Government. Participants called for US military bases on the island to be closed.

Local residents have regularly held similar demonstrations, denouncing high crime rates among American military personnel as well as pollution emanating from the military facilities.

July 05, 2024 at 06:33PM
RT

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