Okinawa lawmakers approve resolution condemning alleged sex crimes by U.S. troops

Okinawa lawmakers approve resolution condemning alleged sex crimes by U.S. troops

The Okinawa Prefectural Assembly building in Naha, Okinawa, Japan, July 12, 2024.

The Okinawa Prefectural Assembly building in Naha, Okinawa, Japan, on July 12, 2024. (Keishi Koja/Stars and Stripes)

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The Okinawa Prefectural Assembly agreed this week to file a complaint with the governments of Japan and the United States over the indictments of two American service members for alleged sex crimes in Okinawa.

The assembly unanimously approved two letters Wednesday, one of protest and one of petition, a spokesman for the prefecture’s Political Affairs Research Division told Stars and Stripes by telephone Thursday.

The letters will be sent next week to several U.S. officials, including the commander of U.S. Forces Japan, Lt. Gen. Ricky Rupp, and U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel, the spokesman said. The assembly also plans to send a delegation to Tokyo between July 31 and Aug. 2 to personally deliver the letters.

The letters were drafted by a special House committee on U.S. bases on July 4, after the two indictments were unsealed in June. The committee was informed on July 1 of three other arrests on similar allegations dating back to February 2023.

Japanese Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi said at a press conference on July 3 that the government was aware of the three incidents and that none of the three suspects had been charged, but he declined to provide details.

Prefectural officials, led by Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki, have expressed disappointment that the national government, local police and prosecutors have not informed them of the arrests and indictments. Tamaki met with Cabinet members, including Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa, last week to file a complaint and establish contacts.

The assembly’s letter specifically mentions the indictment of an Air Force member accused by prosecutors of abducting a girl under the age of 16, taking her to his home and sexually assaulting her on December 24.

The incident caused “some anxiety and shock in the local community as the victim was a minor,” according to a copy of the letter posted on the assembly’s website.

Airman Brennon RE Washington, 25, of Kadena Air Base, was charged March 27 with kidnapping and sexual assault and is expected to appear in Naha District Court on Friday.

In the second case, Master Corporal Jamel Clayton of the III Marine Expeditionary Force was charged June 17 with attempting to sexually assault a woman May 26 in the village of Yomitan.

No date has been set for his trial, a district court spokesman said Thursday. Some government officials in Japan are speaking to the media only on condition of anonymity. The committee’s petition calls on the U.S. government to take steps to prevent further incidents and to apologize and compensate the girl and woman identified by police as victims.

The committee also called on Japan and the United States to “dramatically revise” the Status of Forces Agreement, saying it privileges members of the U.S. military. The SOFA sets out the rights and responsibilities of military and civilian personnel in Japan to the U.S. armed forces. [email protected] @KeishiRKoja