Okinawa mayor seeks better communication of cases involving US military members

A village mayor in Okinawa has urged the Foreign Ministry to re-establish a system to promptly share information about incidents involving US military personnel in the southwestern prefecture.

Yomitan Village Mayor Ishimine Denjitsu visited the Foreign Ministry's Okinawa office on Tuesday. The village is home to US military facilities.

It was revealed last week that a US Air Force member in Okinawa was indicted in March for allegedly kidnapping and sexual assaulting an underage girl last December.

It also came to light that a member of the US Marine Corps in the prefecture was indicted in June for attempting to sexually assault a woman and injuring her.
The Okinawa prefectural government was kept uninformed about both cases.

The alleged crimes have also drawn local anger, with multiple municipal assemblies adopting protest resolutions.

Mayor Ishimine said the cases trample on women's human rights. He said they are grave and malicious, and are absolutely inexcusable.

Ishimine said local authorities were kept in the dark for half a year about the December case. He said if information was adequately shared, it could have prevented similar cases from taking place.

The Foreign Ministry's Ambassador in charge of Okinawan Affairs, Miyagawa Manabu, expressed regret over the incidents.

He said the ministry is consulting other government offices, including investigative authorities, on how to review the information-sharing system. He said he hopes the outcome can be reported as soon as possible.

Mayor Ishimine later told reporters that Miyagawa promised to make efforts to share information, while noting privacy concerns. He said he will wait for the results of the studies to come out.