In regard to the case of the Army soldier from Torii Station accused of the hit-and-run death of an Okinawan man in Yomitan ("Japan protesters seek SOFA change: Yomitan residents want soldier accused of hit-and-run turned over," article, Dec. 16), where is the equal justice for Americans if the reverse should happen?

In July, a dear friend of mine was riding her bicycle early in the morning, training for a marathon. The driver of the car that hit her fled the scene, leaving her for dead ("Okinawa man held in alleged hit and run," article, July 29). [He turned himself in later in the day and was questioned by Okinawa police.]

This same woman just received news that the man who nearly killed her received only a year and a half in jail, and that sentence is being suspended for five years! So he’ll [likely] serve no time in jail.

This woman endured a crushed spine, two rods, eight screws and 51 days in hospitals — not to mention that she and her family had to leave the island and go back to the States, so she could receive the needed surgeries to repair her body.

Shouldn’t justice go both ways? We Americans here on the island realize that we live in a foreign country, but a human life is a human life no matter what country we’re from, so why should a local resident not receive the same harsh punishment that we Americans receive when the tables are turned?

I surely hope that the outcome of my friend’s case has some bearing on our current Army soldier’s case. It sure sounds like the Japanese government is trying to throw the book at the American soldier, when all that local driver received for nearly killing my friend was a slap on the wrist.

Rebecca BurkhalterKadena Air Base, Okinawa

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