TOKYO (AP) — A U.S. serviceman fatally stabbed a Japanese woman and then killed himself in Okinawa on Saturday, Japan’s Foreign Ministry said, amid growing resentment about the presence of American troops in the southwestern Japanese region.
U.S. Forces Japan said the Naval Criminal Investigative Service was working with local police to look into the deaths of a U.S. Navy sailor assigned to a Marine unit and an Okinawa resident. “This is an absolute tragedy and we are fully committed to supporting the investigation,” it said in a statement, adding that more information would be released later.
Japan’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Takeo Akiba telephoned U.S. Ambassador William Hagerty, asking for cooperation with the investigation and efforts to prevent a recurrence, and expressed “extreme regrets,” the Foreign Ministry said.
Although Okinawa makes up less than 1 percent of Japan’s land space, it hosts about half of the 54,000 American troops stationed in Japan, and is home to 64 percent of the land used by the U.S. bases in the country under a bilateral security treaty.
People there have long complained about crime, noise and the destruction of the environment.
A plan to relocate a Marine Corps air station called Futenma to a less populated part of Okinawa has also been contentious. Denny Tamaki, elected Okinawa’s governor in October, is pushing to have the base moved off the island.