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HOME  > Past issues  > 2009 December 9 - 15  > Okinawans call for transfer of U.S. serviceman suspected in hit-and-run
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2009 December 9 - 15 [OKINAWA]

Okinawans call for transfer of U.S. serviceman suspected in hit-and-run

December 15, 2009
Over 1,500 residents of Yomitan Village in Okinawa gathered on December 13 to protest against the U.S. military’s refusal to handover a serviceman even after one month has passed since he allegedly committed a fatal hit-ant-run accident in the village on November 7. The Yomitan villagers called for an immediate transfer of the suspect to the Japanese police and revision of the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA).

Yomitan Mayor Yasuda Keizo said in anger, “Although the Japanese government and the police identified the suspect, they are not requesting the U.S. to hand over the suspect to Japanese authorities.”

Town Assembly Chair Maeda Yoshiteru added, “So long as U.S. servicemen can take refuge in their bases under the SOFA, crimes by them will continue. Anger is now at the boiling point among the Okinawans.”

The U.S. serviceman, who is attached to the U.S. Army Torii Communication Station in the village, allegedly committed a hit-and-run and killed 60-year-old villager Hokama Masakazu on November 7. The suspect, refusing to be questioned by Japanese police, remains on the base. Under the SOFA, the U.S. side can keep him in custody until the Japanese authorities officially indict him.
-Akahata, December 15, 2009

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