An alleged assault of a female Japanese citizen in Okinawa by two U.S. service members Oct. 16 has drawn an apology from the commander of U.S. forces in Japan and imposition of a curfew throughout the country.
"I want to personally apologize for the grief and trauma the victim has endured and the anger it has caused among people in Okinawa," Air Force Lt. Gen. Salvatore A. "Sam" Angelella said in a written statement issued today.
The curfew order requires all members of the U.S. armed forces in Japan, including those serving there on temporary duty, to be on a U.S. military installation, in a private off-installation residence -- or, in the case of people on temporary duty, at their place of lodging, which may include a hotel room -- from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Violations are punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the general's statement said.
Angelella also has ordered subordinate commanders to conduct core value retraining for military personnel and for civilians covered in the status of forces agreement between the United States and Japan. A review of the U.S. Forces Japan liberty policy will take place over the coming days and weeks, the general said.
"Japan is one of our greatest allies, most trusted partners, and is the cornerstone of peace and stability in the Pacific region," the general said. "We will continue to do all we can to ensure the U.S.-Japan relationship remains strong."
In a statement issued yesterday, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little expressed regret for the victim's suffering and said officials are working closely with the Japanese government and relevant local officials in their investigation of the alleged assault.
"The Department of Defense takes all incidents and allegations involving misconduct by service members seriously and pledges its continued cooperation," Little said. "U.S. Forces Japan is actively engaged with the government of Japan, and the U.S. Navy is fully cooperating with authorities in Okinawa as they continue their investigation."
Little added that officials soon will announce a package of measures to ensure responsible behavior and to demonstrate the Defense Department's commitment to maintaining positive relationships with the local communities that host U.S. forces.