Okinawa Times and Ryukyu Shimpo wrote that local prosecutors pressed charges against a U.S. service member and an American civilian base worker on Monday in connection with a robbery at a currency exchange shop in Chatan on May 12. Their custody was transferred from a U.S. military base to the Naha Detention Center following the indictment on charges of robbery and trespassing. Pointing out that the formal accusation came only six days after the police sent the case to the prosecutors’ office, Ryukyu Shimpo said the prosecutors acted very swiftly this time since it has customarily taken 10 to 20 days for them to press charges for incidents involving SOFA personnel. A Japanese lawyer who is familiar with crimes by U.S. service members reportedly speculated that the U.S. military, the local police, and the prosecutors coordinated to act quickly so as to prevent the latest case from being blown out of proportion.
Ryukyu Shimpo added that the Okinawa prefectural government plans to lodge a formal protest against the U.S. military soon, quoting Governor Tamaki as saying last night: “I would like to strongly tell them that incidents and accidents must not happen.” In reference to the arrest of another civilian base employee over the weekend on suspicion of slapping a local woman, the governor said: “Every single incident committed by SOFA members makes the local people nervous.” While welcoming the swift indictment this time, unnamed senior prefectural officials reportedly underscored the importance of SOFA revisions and discussions with U.S. military authorities to prevent further offenses by military community members.