US serviceman kills woman, himself in Japan: foreign ministry

A U.S. service member fatally stabbed a Japanese woman in Okinawa on Saturday before killing himself, according to Japan's foreign ministry.

The Associated Press reported that the deaths of a U.S. Navy sailor assigned to a Marine unit and a resident of Okinawa were being jointly investigated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and local police.

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“This is an absolute tragedy and we are fully committed to supporting the investigation,” NCIS said in a statement obtained by the AP.

Japanese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Takeo Akiba expressed "extreme regrets" about the situation in a phone call with U.S. Ambassador William Hagerty, and reportedly spoke with the ambassador about ways to prevent a similar incident from occurring.

The deaths come as Okinawa residents have expressed growing displeasure with the U.S. military presence in the region, which has led to a number of incidents involving U.S. service members and Japanese citizens over the past several years.

In 2017, a former U.S. Marine was sentenced to life in prison in a widely publicized trial for raping and murdering a 20-year-old Okinawa woman the year before. The incident resulted at the time in a fiery statement from Japan's prime minister, Shinzo Abe, who told then-President Obama that similar crimes must be prevented.

“I am extremely upset. I have no words,” Abe told reporters in May 2016. “I demand that the United States take strict measures to prevent something like this from happening again.”

In 1995, the island was rocked by mass protests after several U.S. service members raped a 12-year-old girl.