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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 February 13 - 19  > Withdrawal of U.S. forces from Japan is essential to eliminate U.S. servicemen’s crimes
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2008 February 13 - 19 [US FORCES]

Withdrawal of U.S. forces from Japan is essential to eliminate U.S. servicemen’s crimes

February 15, 2008
Akahata editorial (excerpts)

Anger is boiling up in Okinawa and across the country due to a recent rape of a junior high school girl by a U.S. Marine.

Okinawa Governor Nakaima Hirokazu met with Prime Minister Fukuda Yasuo and other government officials in Tokyo to lodge a strong protest. The Okinawa Prefectural Assembly and assemblies of municipalities, including Okinawa City and Chatan Town, have adopted resolutions of protest.

The government requested the U.S. forces to tighten discipline and take preventive steps. U.S. Ambassador to Japan Thomas Schieffer and the U.S. military’s Okinawa Area coordinator repeatedly expressed their regret.

However, as Foreign Minister Komura Masahiko made his remarks attaching key importance to “minimizing the adverse impact on the Japan-U.S. relations,” it was obvious that the Japanese and U.S. governments are predominantly concerned with the prevention of any damage to the Japan-U.S. military alliance. With such a stance, they cannot take the steps necessary to ensure the safety of the public.

Imposition of U.S. bases in Okinawa

The United States forced the Japanese government to host U.S. bases as a continuation of its military occupation of Japan after WWII.

In Okinawa, while under occupation, the U.S. forces appropriated private property and land to build military bases and then expanded them by force with bayonets and bulldozers. The Japanese government, however, approved these bases without resistance.

Therefore, the government must shoulder its responsibility for inflicting unbearable suffering on the residents for more than 60 years, and take drastic measures to prevent further crimes. It must take a step to remove the U.S. bases, and not content with requesting “discipline”.

The government has forced Okinawans to sacrifice themselves under the pretext that the U.S. forces are stationed in Japan to defend it. It is undeniable that the Japanese government policy of pressing Okinawans to endure suffering has encouraged crimes by U.S. servicemen. “Defense of Japan” can never justify the existence of U.S. bases, particularly in the current situation in which even the government in its national defense program outline admits that “a full-scale invasion of Japan is increasingly unlikely.”

U.S. bases in Japan are a stronghold in the U.S. preemptive war strategy which has nothing to do with the defense of Japan. For example, Okinawa-based U.S. forces have taken part in operations in Iraq. In 2004, a large helicopter based at Okinawa’s U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station crashed onto a university campus in a residential area while conducting exercises for operations in Iraq.

Okinawans refuse to continue to sacrifice themselves. It is time for the Japanese government to seriously respond to the call of Okinawans, not evasively stressing discipline and education in the U.S. military.

After the gang rape of an elementary school girl in 1995, the U.S. government and military pledged to prevent further crimes. Nevertheless, sexual crimes have been repeatedly committed. Behind the repeated crimes committed by U.S. servicemen, particularly in Okinawa, is the fact that the they are taught that the U.S. occupied Okinawa because the blood of many U.S. soldiers was spilled there. The U.S. forces still occupy vast prime land and enjoy special privileges under the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement. There is no way to eliminate U.S. military-related crimes other than the removal of U.S. bases from Japan.
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