Onaga requests countermeasures to sexual assault allegedly by US military personnel upon receiving apology

Onaga requests countermeasures to sexual assault allegedly by US military personnel upon receiving apology

At the outset of an interview on March 16 at 1:15 p.m., U.S. Consul General in Naha Joel Ehrendreich (left) and Commanding General of III Marine Expeditionary Force Lawrence Nicholson (center) bow to Governor Takeshi Onaga (right) in the governor’s reception office at the Prefectural Office


March 17, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo

In light of the recent incident of sexual assault on a Japanese tourist in Okinawa allegedly by a U.S. solider, on the afternoon of March 16, Commanding General of III Marine Expeditionary Force Lawrence Nicholson and U.S. Consul General in Naha Joel Ehrendreich had an interview with Governor Takeshi Onaga. The governor said, reading a letter of protest, that, “The incident is a malicious one which reminds Okinawan people of past unfortunate instances. We therefore cannot contain our intense anger, and will make a strong protest.” As such, he requested that preventative measures and troop training against such behavior be thoroughly instated.

General Nicholson offered an apology with the words, “Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to visit you today and express my deep regret and remorse at the incident,” and went on to say “the allegations against this individual bring great shame and dishonor on all of us.” He also assured the governor that, “whatever anger you or the citizens of Okinawa have, it is not a match to my anger at this situation.”

During the interview Nicholson explained, “Today I represent 27,000 uniformed military on Okinawa, 17,000 family members, and 4,000 civilian workers; 50,000 Americans.” In relation to Americans stationed in Okinawa he emphasized that, “We are your neighbors; we are your friends; we live in your communities,” bringing this point home with the assertion that, “Everyday there are hundreds of thousands of interactions and engagements between Americans and the citizens of Okinawa.” He noted that Americans and Okinawans “work together in all of the community.”

Onaga stated, “Over the past 70 years since the end of the war … many incidents and accidents have been occurring in Okinawa.” He went on to explain that, “every time said kinds of incidents or accidents have taken place in Okinawa, I have repeatedly, 10s or even 100s of times, written requests and objections to the American government and military, and to the Japanese government. However, the situation remains unchanged.” He requested a drastic reduction of the base burden with the words, “The root of the situation is this: over the past 70 years after the end of the war, Okinawa, which accounts for only 0.6 percent of the total land mass of Japan, continues to host about 73.8 percent of facilities used exclusively by U.S. forces.”

(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)

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