TOKYO (CBSNewYork/AP) — Japanese police are investigating phone calls threatening to kill U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and another American envoy, authorities said Wednesday.
Tokyo police are looking into calls to the U.S. Embassy threatening Kennedy and similar ones targeting Alfred Magleby, the U.S. consul general on the southern island of Okinawa, an Okinawa police official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment on an investigation by Tokyo authorities.
Tokyo police declined to comment. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the U.S. government takes threats to American diplomats seriously.
“We are working with the Japanese government to ensure the necessary measures are in place. We will not comment on the specific details of any threats or the steps we take to address them,” she said.
Earlier this month, the U.S. ambassador to South Korea, Mark Lippert, was slashed in the face and wrist by an anti-U.S. activist in Seoul and was hospitalized for several days.
Kennedy has drawn much attention since arriving in Japan in November 2013 because of being the daughter of former President John F. Kennedy. She has made well-publicized visits to the Fukushima nuclear plant devastated by a 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and to the annual commemorations of the U.S. atomic bombings of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Okinawa is home to about half of the 50,000 American troops based in Japan, and residents have frequently complained about crime, noise and other issues related to the U.S. bases. The U.S. government wants to relocate one base, the Marine Corps Futenma air station, to another area of Okinawa, but many people want it moved completely off the island.
Kennedy visited Okinawa in February last year in an attempt to win support for the base relocation plan, and pledged that Washington would do its best to reduce the burden of its heavy troop presence.
Japanese media reports said the death threats came last month from a caller speaking in English, and that police were looking into the case on suspicion of blackmailing. No other details were known.
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