Japan aims for more transparency over misconduct by US military personnel

Leaders in Japan are taking steps to improve transparency about suspected sexual assaults by US military personnel. The government is under fire after failing to promptly report a series of cases to prefectural authorities in Okinawa.

In March, a US Air Force member was indicted for allegedly kidnapping and sexually assaulting an underage girl.

And in June, a Marine was indicted on suspicion of attempting to sexually assault a woman.

Police arrested another Marine on Thursday in Naha. He is suspected of groping a woman's breasts, but denies the allegations.

Japan's top government spokesperson says the new system will be more efficient.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hayashi Yoshimasa said: "We need prompt discussions on how to respond to cases of this kind in Okinawa, to prevent crimes by US military personnel. The relevant ministries and agencies will cooperate and share as much information as possible with local governments."

The Foreign Ministry will now pass information provided by investigators to the Defense Ministry, which will then notify relevant local governments.

Some people in Okinawa welcome the changes. Others say they are overdue.

Okinawa Governor Tamaki Denny said: "This is one step forward. The government has reviewed its policy on sharing information."

Washington's ambassador to Japan visited the Foreign Ministry on Friday.

Rahm Emanuel said: "Whatever we are doing, as it relates to training and education. It's self-evident. It's not working."

Emanuel suggests Washington will come up with steps to improve the conduct of US military personnel by the end of the month, when the foreign and defense chiefs of both countries meet in Tokyo.