TOKYO An American man working at a U.S. military base on the Japanese island of Okinawa was arrested Thursday on suspicion of dumping the body of a 20-year-old Japanese woman, Okinawa police said, a case likely to stir up anti-U.S. sentiment ahead of an impending visit next week by President Barack Obama.
The 32-year-old civilian admitted to abandoning the corpse but did not make any clear comments about whether he killed the woman, a police spokesman said.
Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida summoned Caroline Kennedy, U.S. ambassador to Japan, to lodge a protest.
"I expressed a strong regret to Ambassador Kennedy and lodged a stern protest. I told her an incident like this is inexcusable and that I feel strong indignation," Kishida told reporters after the meeting.
Kennedy told Kishida the U.S. would redouble its efforts to prevent the recurrence of similar incidents, the foreign minister said.
In Washington, State Department spokesman John Kirby expressed condolences and said U.S. authorities were following the case closely.
"This is a terrible tragedy and it's obviously an outrage. We're treating this situation with the utmost seriousness," Kirby said at a daily news briefing.
Obama, who is due to attend a Group of Seven summit next week, will become the first U.S. president to visit the city of Hiroshima, destroyed by a U.S. atomic bomb 71 years ago.
Okinawa, the site of a bloody World War Two land battle, hosts the bulk of U.S. military forces in Japan, and many residents resent what they see as an unfair burden. U.S. installations take up about 18 percent of Okinawa's land.
In 1995, a 12-year-old Japanese schoolgirl was raped by three U.S. servicemen on Okinawa, sparking huge protests among local residents, many of whom associate U.S. bases with noise, pollution and crime.
(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; additional reporting by Doina Chiacu in Washington; editing by Nick Macfie and Ed Osmond)
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Updated Date: May 20, 2016 00:15 AM