US Ambassador Schieffer made clear that although Japanese charges have been dropped, the US will continue to investigate the case — although I am sure that Sergeant Hadnott is relieved to be back under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Okinawan authorities, including the prefectural assembly, should probably apologize for their overreaction — but won’t. And regardless, the reaction of Okinawans is not the issue.
This incident illustrates yet again that the US-Japan alliance walks on the edge of a precipice and that the US presence has a distortionary impact on Japanese politics. This case may have been a false alarm, but does anyone think that this will be the last such case? In some way, the new countermeasures, once implemented, could have perverse consequences in raising the expectations among the Okinawan people that the situation is under control, thereby ratcheting the anger and disappointment to ever higher levels the next time an incident occurs, with untold consequences for the fate of the US forward presence and the alliance.
So, once again: the US must take the initiative in seeing the realignment process through to completion. The US government must be prepared to act unilaterally to accelerate the relocation of the III MEF to Guam.