Service people stationed at a U.S. military base in Okinawa, Japan have reportedly been asked by their Marines Commander to keep quiet about a sailor who killed himself after allegedly stabbing a Japanese woman to death.
In a letter addressed to base leaders, Lt. Gen. Eric Smith asked everyone to avoid public activities, such as unnecessary shopping, eating out or being overly loud to “demonstrate solidarity with our Okinawan neighbors.”
“As a sign of respect to a community that is angry and in shock, we should be unobtrusive,” Smith said in the letter dated Sunday and made available to the press by a U.S. military official on Monday.
Smith also noted that he was not asking the American troops to hide or be ashamed as most of them are doing good work.
“It’s just the decent, right, and neighborly thing to do,” he explained.
According to Japan’s Foreign Ministry, the sailor, identified as 32-year-old Petty Officer 3rd Class Gabriel Olivero, a Navy corpsman from North Carolina, stabbed 44-year-old Tamae Hindman and then killed himself on Saturday.
An autopsy report released by Okinawa Prefecture Police indicated that the victim had wounds on her neck as well as defensive wounds on her hands.
Olivero, who had multiple wounds to the groin area and on both legs, reportedly had a pattern of domestic violence known to local and military police.
Hindman had reported him to the U.S. military police in January for sexually assaulting her during a breakup, according to an Okinawa Prefectural Police spokesperson.
The heavy presence of American troops has earned resentment among many Okinawan people who have long complained about the resulting crime, aircraft noise and accidents, and destruction of nature, among others.
Okinawa currently hosts about half of the 54,000 American troops stationed in Japan.
Due to a bilateral security treaty, Okinawa is now home to 64% of the land used by the U.S. bases in Japan despite accounting for less than 1% of Japan’s land space.
A plan to relocate a Marine Corps air station called Futenma to the southern island of Okinawa, a less populated area, has also received strong opposition from locals.
The plan involves building a V-shaped runway for a Marine Corps base on the landfill for a targeted completion in 2022. Persistent protests against it have previously kept the plan from being implemented.
Japan’s central government initiated the main reclamation work last year at the relocation site after the Fukuoka High Court rejected the Okinawa Prefectural Government’s demand to stop the relocation.
Okinawa’s governor Denny Tamaki has been pushing to have the base moved off the island since his election last year.
Tamaki has reportedly met with Smith on Monday to discuss the efforts needed to prevent any more crime by the troops in Okinawa.
Featured image via YouTube/RT