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6,000 people in Okinawa rally demand strict measures against crimes by U.S. servicemen violating human rights


About 6,000 people on March 23 attended a rally in Okinawafs Chatan Town in the heavy rain to express their indignation at the endless succession of crimes by U.S. servicemen.


The rally was sponsored by an organizing committee consisting of 99 organizations, including organization for social education and labor unions.


The adopted resolution said, gGiven the fact that human rights are frequently violated due to the existence of U.S. military bases, only a drastic revision of the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement will ensure that our human rights are protected.h


The resolution calls for a drastic revision to the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement, reduction and consolidation of U.S. bases and reduction of U.S. troops, including Marines, and for responsibility to be made clear in eradicating human rights violations. gThe patience of people in Okinawa already lies beyond the limits of endurance.h


Some rally participants put up umbrellas reading, gNO BASESh and others held banners that read gNever allow U.S. soldiersf crimes to go unpunishedh, gLetfs hand down a peaceful island without bases to our children.h


A 77-year-old woman who traveled from Nago City by bus with other participants, said, gMore than 60 years after the warfs end, Okinawa is still like a colony. We canft put up with it any longer.h


Speaking on behalf of the organizing committee, Tamayose Tetsuei, head of the Okinawa Prefectural Liaison Council for Development of Kodomo-kai (children's association), emphasized, gI urge the Japanese and U.S. governments to take necessary steps to respect and to secure our human rights.h


He also criticized the local Liberal Democratic Party for failing to attend the rally despite its support for the protest resolution in the Prefectural Assembly.


Naha Mayor Onaga Takeshi said, gIn order to change from the present system, in order to stop the ceaseless occurrence of crimes by U.S. soldiers, the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement under the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty must be overhauled.h

- Akahata, March 24, 2008


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