Obama not apologizing for alleged murder of Okinawan woman by ex-marine
May 26, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo
By Ryota Nakamura
On the evening of May 25, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with United States President Obama in Shima of Mie Prefecture and held a joint press conference. Regarding the recent incident of a woman’s body being disposed of by a U.S. military employee, Obama expressed his sorrow for the victim; however, he did not apologize. Although Obama stated that he would do all he can to prevent a recurrence of such an incident, there were no specific measures given. Regarding the revision of the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), Obama said that it does not prevent the pursuit of justice under Japan’s judicial system, and showed no interest in revising. Abe said, “As for the SOFA, we will improve problems one by one and pile up the results.” He did not ask the president for the revision of the SOFA. Abe did not mention Okinawa governor Onaga’s request to meet Obama.
At the meeting, Abe mentioned the incident in “absolute protest” and requested the United States take action for effective prevention of a recurrence.
Obama stated that he would express his condolence and sorrow. He also said that he was surprised by the very violent crime by a U.S. military-related person. Obama said that he was shocked, and that the crime was inexcusable.
Regarding the suspect, Obama said the U.S. government would work together with Japan on the investigation and said the suspect should be judged under the Japanese judicial system.
Obama stressed there was no need for a revision of the SOFA as the suspect had the appropriate legal liability under the current agreement.
There was no mention of the removal or reduction of the military bases in Okinawa.
About the growing reaction against the military bases in Okinawa, Abe said, “It is difficult to recover the lost trust, but we, Japan and the United States, agreed to do our best to reduce the burden on Okinawa of hosting military bases.”
The meeting was initially planned for the morning of May 26 when the G7 Ise-Shima Summit opens. However, it was rescheduled to take place immediately after Obama’s arrival in Japan in order to appear to be responding quickly at the top level to the growing anti-military sentiments in Okinawa,
(English translation by T&CT and Megumi Chibana)
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