Update: There will be no Fourth of July celebrations such as fireworks and concerts for American troops in Japan as per the latest restrictions imposed on the U.S. bases by the Japanese government.
The announcement comes days after a former U.S. Marine reportedly confessed to the rape and murder of a woman in Okinawa.
The U.S. Forces, Japan made a public announcement of the decision on its Twitter account.
USFJ commander announces no fireworks/concerts this year to show respect to our Japanese neighbors. Full message: https://t.co/pFjn5K33l3— U.S. Forces Japan (@USForcesJapan) June 23, 2016
A similar message was posted on their Facebook account, where the U.S. Forces, Japan explained the step was taken “to demonstrate unwavering respect for the loss our friends on Okinawa experienced.”
Kenneth Franklin Gadson, 32, was arrested after he allegedly raped and murdered Rina Shimabukuro, 20, who went missing in late April.
Protests subsequently broke out in Japan against American military bases, which could fuel anti-U.S. sentiment ahead of a crucial visit by President Barack Obama, who will become the first sitting U.S. president to visit the city of Hiroshima, destroyed by a U.S. atomic bomb 71 years ago.
Meanwhile, Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani visited the U.S. Kadena Air Base to formally protest the crime to Lt. Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson, Marine Forces Japan commander.
"I deliver a strong message of regret and at the same time make a protest,” he said as cited by the public broadcaster NHK.
As Nicholson offered “heartfelt prayers and condolences” to the victim's family, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter "extended his sincere apologies to the victim's family and friends," according to Defense Department spokesman Peter Cook.
The U.S. military's presence on the Japanese island of Okinawa and has been a controversial issue for a long time now.
Although the central Japanese government supports the American bases on the island, locals have protested the decision because of crimes such as rape by U.S. military personnel. In fact, Gadson’s case is the third high-profile alleged rape case involving a U.S. officer this year.
In the third week of March, a 24-year-old U.S. Navy sailor was arrested in Okinawa on suspicion of rape. Almost a week later, a U.S. serviceman was arrested after he reportedly groped and punched a 19-year-old Japanese college student on a commercial flight from the U.S. to Japan.