Okinawan women rally to protest against U.S. soldier's rape

About 600 women held a rally on July 7 in Chatan Town in Okinawa Prefecture in protest against the June 29 rape of a young woman in the town by a U.S. Air Force staff sergeant stationed at U.S. Kadena Air Base .

Participants complained about Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro's failure in the recent Japan-U.S. summit meeting to raise the issue of the rape incident. Chatan's women associations organized this rally.

Addressing the Japanese and U.S. governments and the military, participants adopted a resolution, demanding that the U.S. apologize to the victim, that both governments make an overall review of the Status of U.S. Forces in Japan Agreement (SOFA), and that U.S. bases and personnel in Okinawa be reduced.

Chatan Town Mayor Hentona Choichi took part in the rally, and said, "If we want no more such incidents by U.S. personnel, the SOFA's revision is the key. Let's unite to get the Japanese government and the U.S. accept our

Speeches were made by Tamanaha Yoshiko, Chatan's women associations chair, Akamine Chizu, Okinawa Prefectural Federation of regional women associations, and a member of the Parent-Teacher Association.

A mother said that women working late at night are always aware of being attacked. Kawabata Miwako, a girl student of Chatan High School, said Okinawa's high school students will appeal to the public to defend peace and the human rights.

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Another women's rally took place on July 9 in Naha City in Okinawa at the call of the Women's Voices Network and the Okinawa Women's Action, chanting, "We Won't Tolerate it Anymore! Okinawa Rejects All of the Bases!" Further protests must be made to change the government's negative policy toward reviewing the SOFA, a woman said.

Women members of the prefectural and city assemblies in Okinawa, including Tamaki Nobuko, Japanese Communist Party Prefectural Assembly member, took part in the rally. (end)