Okinawa rape, murder: Governor demands meeting with Obama

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Tokyo, May 23 (IANS) Governor of Okinawa Takeshi Onaga said on Thursday he has requested a meeting with US President Barack Obama over the recent arrest of a man working for the US military in the prefecture, for his alleged raping, strangling and dumping of the body of a local woman.

Onaga, a staunch opponent to a controversial plan to relocate a US military facility within Japan’s southernmost prefecture and an advocate for lightening the US base-hosting burdens of the people of Okinawa, told Prime Minister Shinzo Abe he wanted him to set up the meeting with Obama, Xinhua news agency reported.

Onaga, at a press briefing on Thursday, also told local media that he had demanded an immediate “drastic” review of the Japan-US Status of Forces Agreement, which, in part, decrees how the US military and military-affiliated personnel are dealt with in Japan.

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“As governor of Okinawa prefecture, which hosts the bulk of the US military bases in Japan, I would very much like to directly speak to President Obama so as to ensure the safety of prefectural residents’ lives and property, as well as of children and grandchildren in the future,” Onaga was quoted as saying.

“We can never tolerate such an incident. This is a crime simply because the US military bases exist in Okinawa. I lodge a strong protest against it,” the governor added.

But Abe’s top spokesperson, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshida Suga said after Onaga’s meeting with the Japanese premier that arranging a meeting with Obama might be difficult and that such issues “related to security and diplomacy should be discussed between the central governments of the countries involved”.

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Abe has indicated his own intention to discuss the matter with Obama, with the talk likely to take place on the sidelines of a two-day G-7 leaders’ summit this Thursday, which Obama will be attending and Abe hosting.

Abe has expressed his own indignation over the latest crime involving a US military-linked personnel in Okinawa and will demand the visiting president take effective measures to prevent such an incident from happening again.

Police arrested 32-year-old Kenneth Franklin Shinzato, a former US Marine and resident of Yonabaru town in the southwestern prefecture, on May 19, for dumping the body of 20-year-old Rina Shimabukuro in a forested area near Onna village on the night of April 28 or in the early hours of the morning after raping the young woman.

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