Two U.S. sailors accused of rape. Heads of Okinawa municipalities voice their indignation: “The only way to resolve this problem is to remove the bases”

Two U.S. sailors accused of rape.  Heads of Okinawa municipalities voice their indignation: “The only way to resolve this problem is to remove the bases

In the afternoon of October 18, after they had protested to the U.S. military about the two U.S. sailors accused of rape, the heads of the municipalities of central Okinawa held a press conference in Okinawa City. Mitsuo Gima (center), Ginowan mayor and the chairperson of the association stated, "This incident is nothing less than an act of brutality."

October 19, 2012 Ryukyu Shimpo

With regard to the sexual assault case against two U.S. sailors, representatives of the municipalities, political parties and civil groups protested on October 18 to the agencies of the governments of Japan and the United States, and to the U.S. military authorities in Okinawa. At a press conference held after the heads of the various municipalities in central Okinawa visited the headquarters of the U.S.
Navy Fleet Activities Okinawa, Urasoe Mayor Mitsuo Gima, who is the president of the Organization of the Central Region Municipalities, stated, “This case is both inexcusable and brutal. If we do not go as far as removing the bases, we cannot get to the root of the problem.” He has called for action to be taken towards the removal of the bases.

At the meeting of the municipalities’ representatives on October 18, the mayors adopted a letter of protest to the governments and the military authorities. The letter demands drastic revision of the Status of Forces Agreement between Japan and the United States, thorough compensation and an apology to the victim and measures to prevent any recurrence of such incidents.

Mayor Gima said, “Japanese government signed the Status of Forces Agreement, so they are complicit in this situation. The heads of the ten municipalities are equally determined to press the government to take measures to rectify the situation.” The U.S. military bases are concentrated in the central parts of the main island of Okinawa, where these municipalities are located.

Six mayors of the ten municipalities took part in the protest. On the subject of the incident having occurred immediately after the Osprey deployment, Ginowan Mayor Atsushi Sakima said, “I am both indignant and outraged that this assault took place at such a time.”

That same day, Kanagawa Governor Yuji Kuroiwa said, “This is not just a matter of concern to the people of Okinawa; I too find it indeed regrettable. I want the government to come up with specific preventive measures and a fundamental solution.” In his role as the chairperson of the National Governors’ Association for Military Facilities he verbally protested to the government of Japan and the U.S. Embassy in Japan. Two mayors from Kanagawa prefecture, where Naval Air Facility Atsugi is located, have made the content of their protest letters public. The two U.S. sailors who were arrested on suspicion of assaulting a woman in Okinawa were engaged in transport operations in Atsugi, and when they committed the crime had come to work at the Kadena Air Base with work. Yamato Mayor Satoru Oki commented, “This incident will make people distrust those on the Atsugi base.” Ayase Mayor Seijiro Kasama angrily said, “I urge the U.S. military to strengthen their enforcement of the law and to improve the education of their personnel.”

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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