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2012年10月20日 (土)

沖縄米兵事件 再発防止へ実効性ある対策を

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Oct. 20, 2012)
Crimes by U.S. servicemen must be prevented
沖縄米兵事件 再発防止へ実効性ある対策を(10月19日付・読売社説)

A mean-spirited and wicked crime has adversely impacted the Japan-U.S. alliance.

The U.S. forces must quickly take effective measures to prevent such criminal acts from being repeated.

The Okinawa prefectural police have arrested two U.S. Navy men for allegedly raping and injuring a Japanese woman who was walking home before dawn in a central area of Okinawa Prefecture. The case must be thoroughly investigated.

The two sailors, who are stationed at a naval air station in Texas, arrived in Japan early this month and were scheduled to leave Japan later the same day when they committed the crime.

In August, a U.S. marine stationed in Okinawa sexually molested a Japanese woman in the early hours on a Naha street.

Should these crimes occur frequently, the stationing of U.S. forces in Okinawa, deemed essential for maintaining Japan's security, will be destabilized.

It is not surprising for Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima to react indignantly by saying, "It's sheer madness." The U.S. forces must take urgent concrete measures to prevent such crimes from recurring.


Lectures on Okinawa

U.S. servicemen stationed in Okinawa have been ordered to restrict their drinking off base, and are obliged to attend lectures on the culture and history of Okinawa. However, servicemen who stay briefly in Okinawa, like the two sailors who have been arrested, are not under such obligations.

Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto and other Cabinet members say the government should demand at a meeting of the Japan-U.S. Joint Committee that the U.S. side take strict disciplinary action.

Comprehensive and effective measures should be worked out to bolster educational programs for young U.S. servicemen from a mid- and long-term perspective, as well as impose restrictions on their leaving the base.

As the latest incident took place immediately after deployment in the prefecture of the MV-22 Osprey, the U.S. new transport aircraft, resentment among local people has grown stronger.

But the response to the rape and assurance of the safety of the aircraft are different issues that should be resolved separately.

At the same time, it is necessary for both Japan and the United States to make constant efforts to deal with the issues involved. The U.S. forces should prevent accidents and reduce noise involving the new aircraft and Japan must try to lessen the burden of local residents living near bases.


Local anger may increase

Some government officials are concerned that local sentiment against the U.S. forces in Okinawa may heat up, as it did at the time of the rape of a young girl by U.S. servicemen in 1995.

However, the circumstances between the 1995 rape and the latest case differ. In 1995, the U.S. side at first refused to hand over the servicemen involved in the case to the Japanese authorities although the prefectural police had taken out arrest warrants for them. This time, however, the prefectural police already have the suspects in custody.

The two sailors are expected to be punished in accordance with Japanese judicial procedures.

Nakaima has once again called for the revision of the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement. But in the latest case, the bilateral accord that restricts the transfer of U.S. suspects, including servicemen, to Japanese authorities before indictment is not hindering the investigation.

Both governments have resolved specific problems by improving the way the bilateral accord is applied. This is the most realistic option and probably makes the alliance stronger than ever.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 19, 2012)
(2012年10月19日01時30分  読売新聞)


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