Lance Cpl. Andrew Torres, 20, of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, is accused of robbing this Okinawa convenience store at knifepoint on April 3, 2024.

Lance Cpl. Andrew Torres, 20, of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, is accused of robbing this Okinawa convenience store at knifepoint on April 3, 2024. (Keishi Koja/Stars and Stripes)

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — A mayor on Okinawa complained to the Marine Corps this week about the “burden and fear” created in his city by a Marine accused of robbing and attempting to rob convenience stores last month.

Ginowan Mayor Masanori Matsugawa filed a protest Tuesday with Lt. Gen. Roger Turner, commander of III Marine Expeditionary Force, and Shinya Ito, director of the Okinawa Defense Bureau, asking for “thorough enforcement” of discipline for the Marines in his city. The bureau represents Japan’s Ministry of Defense in the island prefecture.

Lance Cpl. Andrew Torres, 20, of the III Marine Logistics Group at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, has been in custody since April 18, when police say they caught him fleeing a Ginowan convenience store with a knife. Prosecutors charged him on May 8 with attempted theft.

Also on May 8, police accused Torres of robbing another Ginowan convenience store at knifepoint on April 3 and taking the equivalent of $840. He has yet to be officially charged in that case.

“This incident is heinous in that the robber went behind the cash register counter and threatened the store clerk with a knife, then wrenched money from the store,” the mayor wrote in his petition.

Matsugawa requested “the thorough enforcement of official discipline and education” of the Marines and that the Corps “take every measure to prevent the recurrence of the incidents and accidents,” according to his petition.

“I must say that this kind of incident will add to their burden and fear, which should never be allowed,” the mayor wrote of his city’s residents.

Ito said the defense bureau is “taking this heinous incident very seriously,” according to a statement provided Thursday by a spokesman for Ginowan city’s Military Base Affairs Division.

Some government spokespeople in Japan are required to speak to the media only on condition of anonymity.

The logistics group “is actively cooperating with Japanese law enforcement on this matter,” III MEF spokesman 2nd Lt. Owen Hitchcock said by email Thursday. “The alleged behavior does not align with Marine Corps values, and we are committed to upholding our standards.”

Okinawa prefecture also complained about the incident to the Marine Corps, Okinawa Defense Bureau and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Okinawa Liaison Office on May 9, a spokeswoman for the prefecture’s Military Base Affairs Division said by phone Thursday.

The prefecture also complained that “U.S. service members caused 72 criminal offenses last year, the largest number in the past 10 years.”

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Keishi Koja is an Okinawa-based reporter/translator who joined Stars and Stripes in August 2022. He studied International Communication at the University of Okinawa and previously worked in education.

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