Okinawa governor protests to government over sexual assaults by US servicemen

The governor of Japan's southern prefecture of Okinawa has protested to the Defense Ministry over two alleged sexual assault cases involving US military personnel stationed in the prefecture.

The two cases came to light in Okinawa last week. Neither the central government nor the police had reported them to the prefecture.

Governor Tamaki Denny met State Minister of Defense Oniki Makoto at the ministry in Tokyo on Wednesday.

Tamaki expressed outrage, saying the incidents are absolutely unacceptable as they are serious and malicious acts that disregard the human rights and dignity of women. He said the revelations of the incidents within days of each other have caused significant anxiety among the people of Okinawa.
Tamaki noted that the assault in December last year involved the kidnapping of a minor and should have been addressed collaboratively by relevant bodies and the community to ensure the safety of children.

He criticized the government's response to the incidents, saying its failure to notify the prefecture and the municipality prevented local action.

Tamaki requested that all incidents and accidents involving US military personnel be reported to the prefecture.

He also asked that the Japanese and US governments quickly draw up effective measures to prevent a recurrence and that the details be disclosed to the people of Okinawa.

Oniki described the incidents as extremely regrettable and said the ministry has asked the US forces to tighten disciplinary controls and prevent a recurrence.

He said the ministry will continue to seek measures to avert incidents and accidents.

Tamaki also met with Foreign Minister Kamikawa Yoko.

Kamikawa said she takes very seriously the harsh criticism and distrust expressed by the people of Okinawa regarding the government's handling of the situation.

Referring to information sharing with local municipalities, she said that while they must consider the privacy of the victims and the impact on the investigation, her ministry will carefully review the matter with relevant government ministries and agencies.