Battle of Okinawa service reflects tensions over slaying
ITOMAN, Okinawa — Recent strains on the U.S.-Japan alliance were clear Thursday as high-level representatives of both countries gathered to commemorate the 71st anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa, one of World War II’s fiercest ground battles.
The distinguished guests at the annual ceremony at the Okinawa Peace Park included Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, his cabinet members and chairs of both houses in the Diet, along with U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and III Marine Expeditionary Force commander Lt. Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson.
In the wake of the recent slaying of a 20-year-old Okinawan woman that has been linked to a U.S. civilian base worker, the ceremony took on more political flavor than usual this year.
“I am outraged by the vicious and atrocious incident that an individual connected to the military is involved,” said Abe, who wants an even closer relationship with the U.S. and was the target of protesters outside the Japanese parliament building Sunday for his recent moves to ease the restrictions that prevent Japan’s self-defense-only military from coming to aid of allies under attack.
Kenneth Franklin Gadson, a former Marine who became a civilian contractor at Kadena Air Base, has been held for five weeks in the slaying of Rina Shimabukuro. Police have recommended murder and rape charges.
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