U.S. Consul-General apologizes to Naha Mayor for crimes

U.S. Consul-General apologizes to Naha Mayor for crimes

U.S. Consul-General in Okinawa Alfred R. Magleby, (left) who apologized for crimes committed by U.S. military personnel, and Naha Mayor Takeshi Onaga, who requested a review of the Japan-U.S. Status-of-Forces Agreement.

January 17, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo

In the afternoon of January 16, at the Naha Municipal Office, the U.S. Consul-General in Okinawa Alfred R. Magleby met Naha Mayor Takeshi Onaga in order to apologize for the series of crimes that U.S. servicemen committed at the end of last year.

The consul-general apologized for causing troubles for Naha citizens. In response, the mayor stated that the Japan-U.S. Status-of-Forces Agreement needs to be reviewed and that the Naha Military Port should be returned at an early stage, saying, “We cannot establish good relations as neighbors without resolving these fundamental issues.”

This is the first time that the U.S. consul-general has come to apologize to the mayor of Naha for such a sequence of incidents. Up until now, when U.S. soldiers committed crimes, local chief executives would visit the Office of the Consulate General of the United States to protest, but last November Onaga suggested that the U.S. consul-general should come to the Naha Municipal Office to explain and apologize. Magleby said that some people here may view less serious crimes as being worse than they are, and stressed that most U.S. servicemen and women are fine young people.

In response, the mayor remarked that Okinawa is overburdened with U.S. military bases and suffers from crime committed by U.S. military personnel. He was critical that the U.S. military only provides newcomers with one month of orientation programs about Okinawa, and that the U.S. government does not return the land it seized in Okinawa. “This clearly indicates that the United States looks down on Okinawa,” said Onaga. The mayor pointed out that Okinawa has had to experience many very difficult things since WWII. He said that regardless of how the U.S. government apologizes in future, it will be difficult to accept such apologies without a review of the Japan-U.S. Status-of-Forces Agreement.

The mayor asked the consul-general, “Why do you think Okinawans are angry?” The consul-general answered that he could understand Okinawan people’s feelings, and that it might be a result of history. The mayor remarked that Naha Military Port remains unused and requested its early return. The consul-general commented that the port has existed for emergency situations and that the U.S. military will fully utilize the facilities when and if such a situation arises.

(English translation by T&CT, Lima Tokumori and Mark Ealey)

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