Why do Okinawans have to continue to endure?: Akahata editorial, July 1, 2001 (Gist)

Okinawans are angered by the repeated rape of a local young woman at her twenties by a U.S. soldier. The crime allegedly occurred before dawn of June 29 in Chatan Town in central Okinawa. The suspect, based at U.S. Kadena Air Base, is now under police investigation.

In Chatan Town this year, a U.S. Marine committed a series of arson attacks and an Army Special Command Green Beret member destroyed police cars.

In Okinawa in July 2000, just before the G-7 Okinawa Summit, a U.S. Marine assaulted a junior high school girl, and last January another Marine molested a high school girl in a residential area.

People's anger at unending U.S. military crimes is so strong that the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly, including ruling Liberal Democratic Party members, unanimously adopted a resolution calling for the reduction in the number of U.S. Marines and other U.S. Forces in Okinawa.

Last year, former U.S. President Bill Clinton who attended the Okinawa Summit apologized to Okinawans for U.S. soldiers' crimes. But the U.S. has repeated such apologies adnauseam.

The U.S. Forces have never made any essential reflection, as clear from an e-mail sent by Earl B. Hailston, Okinawa Area Coordinator of U.S. Forces, to his commanders on January 23 calling the Okinawan governor and other prefectural leaders "all nuts and a bunch of wimps."

It is 56 years since the end of World War II, and 75% of all U.S. military bases in Japan are still concentrated in Okinawa with 25,000 soldiers stationed there. What's more, the 15,000 U.S. Marines are stationed in Okinawa as a strike force which the U.S. will sent into regional conflicts around the world.

Their hard and fierce everyday training is in preparation for U.S. military interventions. The stationing of these forces in densely populated areas of Okinawa is the root cause of frequent incidents by U.S. soldiers.

So long as U.S. bases remain in Okinawa, tragic incidents and crimes caused by U.S. personnel will never end.

The Japanese government must step up its efforts to get U.S. bases in Okinawa, the hotbed of crimes, reduced and even removed. It should cancel the plan to construct a new U.S. base as an alternative to U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station. It is high time for the Japanese government to start negotiating with the U.S. government to get the U.S. Marines in Okinawa reduced and withdrawn. (end)