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HOME  > Past issues  > 2021 February 17 - 23  > Okinawans angry at another sex crime committed by US marine and the spate of low altitude flights
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2021 February 17 - 23 [US FORCES]

Okinawans angry at another sex crime committed by US marine and the spate of low altitude flights

February 18 & 19, 2021

Okinawa's Vice Governor Janaha Kiichiro on February 17 lodged a protest against the most recent sexual assault committed by a U.S. marine in Naha City as well as against the spate of low-altitude flight training exercises by U.S. military aircraft away from the recognized training air-zones in Okinawa.

Janaha called Hashimoto Naofumi, the Foreign Ministry's ambassador in charge of Okinawa affairs, and Tanaka Toshinori, the local defense bureau head, to the prefectural government office, demanding that the central government strongly press U.S. forces in Okinawa to not conduct any flight training exercises at low altitudes outside the established airspace Okinawa provides to the U.S. military.

He said that the U.S. military should abide by the minimum altitude standard set by Japan's Aviation Law, and that the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) should be fundamentally revised.

He emphasized the need for Japan to urge the U.S. side to immediately take measures to prevent a recurrence of crimes caused by U.S. military personnel. He also called for the reopening of working team meetings to prevent crimes and accidents involving U.S. servicemen and U.S. military-attached civilian employees which have not been held since April 2017.

On the same day at a Lower House Budget Committee meeting, Japanese Communist Party representative Akamine Seiken also demanded the cancellation of low-altitude flight training exercises throughout Okinawa by U.S. military aircraft.

Akamine said, "Both Japan and the United States should negotiate a ban on military drills near or over residential areas. What the Japanese government does give the U.S. forces freedom to use Japan as their war training field. Japan as a sovereign nation must immediately stop it."

On the previous day, a group of women at a press conference in the Okinawa prefectural government office protested against the sexual assault on a woman by a U.S. marine.

The drunken U.S. marine assaulted a woman on a street in downtown Naha City and was arrested on February 12 on suspicion of raping the woman.

Pointing out that violence inflicted on women would never stop in Okinawa as long as the heavy concentration of U.S. forces remains there, the women's organization demanded that apology to the victim be issued; the victim's privacy be protected; care for emotional trauma be provided; strict punishment be imposed on the rapist; going outside of U.S. bases be limited; and the SOFA be revised.
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