U.S. soldiers' crimes will not be eliminated as long as U.S. bases exist in Okinawa

A U.S. Air Force sergeant's rape of a Japanese woman in a parking lot in Okinawa's Chatan Town fueled Okinawans' anger at atrocious crimes repeatedly committed by U.S. soldiers.

"We are very shocked. Our daughters or ourselves can be victims next," said the Chatan Town Women's Clubs Federation chair. She is calling on Okinawan women's organizations to join forces to hold a protest meeting and discuss ways to protect women against U.S. soldiers' crimes.

The Chatan Town Assembly on July 3 adopted a unanimous resolution and a statement expressing the assembly members' "burning anger" and protest at the U.S. Forces, as well as the Japanese and U.S. governments.

Criticizing the U.S. Forces for still regarding Okinawa as occupied territory by maintaining 75 percent of U.S. bases in Japan on Okinawa, the resolution stated that this is why U.S. soldiers' crimes in Okinawa are repeated endlessly.

The resolution condemned the U.S. soldier's shameless crime as an act which harms Chatan Town's image in disregard of the townspeople's efforts to establish a comfortable environment with an independent economy in spite of all the difficulties caused by the U.S. base which occupies 56 percent of the town area.

The resolution called for steps to be taken, including a fundamental review of the excessive concentration of U.S. bases in Okinawa, a fundamental revision of the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), and the imposition of restrictions on U.S. soldiers' drinking and the enforcement of a curfew.

In Nago City, which the Japanese government has chosen as the site of a new U.S. military base, Nakamura Yoshiyuki, leader of the anti-new base group of citizens, said that U.S. soldiers' crimes will not be eliminated as long as U.S. bases exist.

He went on to say: "Such an incident is always followed by a promise by the Japanese and U.S. governments to tighten discipline among U.S. troops and educate them, but Okinawans no longer believe them."

"The Japanese government has accepted the plan to construct a new U.S. base in Nago City in complete disregard of the prefectural people's opposition. It is reluctant even to ask the U.S. government to accept a 15-year limit to be imposed on the planned new base. No one believes that the Japanese government has the capacity to root out U.S. soldiers' crimes," Nakamura added. (end)