US President Apologizes to Japan PM over Okinawa Murder

US President Apologizes to Japan PM over Okinawa Murder
Wed May 25, 2016 22:27:38

US President Barack Obama has expressed “his sincerest condolences and deepest regrets” for the "tragedy" of a Japanese woman's death in the hands of a US military base staff member in Okinawa, after being harshly lectured by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

"The US will continue to cooperate fully with the investigation to ensure that justice is done under the Japanese justice system," Obama told Abe at a press conference in Japan’s Shima on Monday.

The two met shortly after the American head of state arrived in Japan on Wednesday to take part in the G7 summit.

Kenneth Franklin Shinzato, a former US Marine, was arrested last week for the murder of 20-year-old Rina Shimabukuro, after police found DNA matching the dead woman's in his car.

Shinzato, who lives in southern Okinawa, worked at the US Air Force's Kadena Air Base in Okinawa.

“We want to see a crime like this prosecuted here in the same way that we would feel horrified and want to provide a sense of justice to a victim's family back in the US,” Obama said. “I think the Japanese people should know we are deeply moved and working with the Japanese government to prosecute not only this crime but prevent these kinds of crimes from happening again.”

The president’s comments came after Abe expressed his outrage and demanded an end to such crimes by US servicemen.

The Japanese premier raised a formal protest and said he felt “profound resentment for this self-centered and despicable crime this case has shocked not just Okinawa but all of Japan.”

The meeting was entirely focused on the murder case, Abe noted.

Obama was not the first high US official to apologize for the murder as on Sunday US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter had also extended “sincere” apologies to his Japanese counterpart Gen Nakatani.

Of the nearly 47,000 US military forces deployed to Japan, more than half are stationed in Okinawa.

It was reported on Wednesday that thousands of Okinawans were planning a massive rally to protests the young woman’s death.

Similar cases of rape and other crimes by American service members have sparked local outrage in the past.

Back in 2013, two American sailors admitted to raping a woman in Okinawa a year earlier in a case that sparked huge anti-US sentiments in Japan.

In 1995, the abduction and rape of a 12-year-old girl by three US servicemen triggered huge protests, prompting Washington to pledge efforts to strengthen troop discipline to prevent such crimes and reduce the US footprint on the island.

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