Thousands gather to protest over Japanese woman’s murder at Okinawa U.S. base

HUMAN2TOKYO, Japan – Thousands of Japanese people came out on June 19 to protest the presence of U.S. military in the island of Okinawa.

The protests have come after an American contractor was arrested for suspected rape and murder of a local woman.

According to reports, Okinawa Island houses the bulk of American troops in Japan.

It was reported that there are plans to relocate the Marine Corps air station to a lesser populated part of the island. In 1995, three Americans had raped a teenager and public anger had forced the decision.

However, the protest on June 19 is set to threaten that plan.

Reports indicate that the murder of the local woman left the public outraged.

The American contractor was arrested on May 19 on suspicion of abandoning the body but he has not been charged with murder yet.

Okinawa governor Takeshi Onaga reportedly addressed the crowd and apologised to the woman for not being able to protect her.

He said, “We had pledged never to repeat such an incident. I couldn’t change the political system to prevent that. That is my utmost regret as a politician and as governor of Okinawa.”

According to reports, 65,000 people took part in the rally, some of them holding signs demanding that the Marines leave.

The U.S. Navy this month imposed a drinking ban after a sailor was arrested for drunk driving and driving on the wrong side of the freeway and crashing into two vehicles.

Last month, Lt. Gen. Lawrence Nicholson, the commanding general of Marine Forces Japan had said, “Please do not allow this terrible act of violence to drive a wedge between our two communities. There may be issues we differ on. But we must continue to talk. Let’s keep those lines of communication open.”

According to reports, Okinawa houses 50,000 U.S. nationals which include 30,000 military personnel and civilian contractors.

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About Cholo Brooks 14321 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.