Tens of thousands of people on the Japanese island of Okinawa protested Sunday against the presence of U.S. military bases there, many wearing black to mourn the rape and killing of a local woman in which an American contractor is a suspect.
CCTV’s Terrence Terashima reports from Okinawa.
Massive protest on Okinawa opposes US military after killingTens of thousands of people on the Japanese island of Okinawa protested Sunday against the presence of U.S. military bases there, many wearing black to mourn the rape and killing of a local woman in which an American contractor is a suspect. CCTV's Terrence Terashima reports from Okinawa.
The killing of the local woman, who had been missing for several weeks when her body was found last month, set off outrage on Okinawa, where tensions periodically run high over crimes linked to American troops. The U.S. contractor, a former Marine, was arrested on May 19 on suspicion of abandoning the woman’s body, but has not yet been charged with killing her.
It was shocking news to the Okinawans. The murder was not only brutal but also premeditated. The suspect admitted to have searched for 3 hours for potential victim, with clear intention.
Crimes committed by Americans, servicemen or civilian employees have long been a source of friction on Okinawa. In 1995, three American servicemen kidnapped and raped a 12-year-old schoolgirl, which set off mass protests against the U.S. military presence and led to an agreement for reduction and return of lands occupied by U.S. military.
The most recent murder has not only triggered outrage, but also fear among young women. An average of 140 crimes are reported a year, 10 percent of which are heinous crimes such as murder, arson, burglary or rape.
The rally called for a review of the U.S.-Japanese security agreement, which burdens Okinawa with hosting the bulk of American troops in Japan. Also contentious is a plan to relocate a Marine Corps air station to a less-populated part of the southwestern island. The relocation plan developed after public anger erupted in 1995 over the rape of a girl by three American servicemen.
“Everyone said they do not want these bases, which comes with high crime rate. They all said US is a important partner, The U.S.-Japan security agreement is important, but when we asked to build the new Futenma base in their region, they all said it should be kept in Okinawa. How ridiculous is that,” Okinawa Prefectural Assembly House Speaker Masaharu Kina said.
The American military personnel stationed in Okinawa have been banned from drinking outside of U.S. bases and a curfew was imposed. But it only took few days for another drunk driving incident to occur, injuring two residents. Many residents said promises by President Obama and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe mean nothing, as dozens of similar promises were made in the past without any change.
Story by CCTV and the Associated Press.