Onaga takes a cautious stance toward new crime prevention measures: “The problem is the overwhelming concentration of bases”

May 29, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo

On May 28, Lieutenant General Lawrence Nicholson, Okinawa Area Coordinator for the U.S. military and the top official of the U.S. forces in Okinawa, spoke to Governor Takeshi Onaga by telephone. Lieutenant General Nicholson announced to Governor Onaga that in the wake of the arrest of a U.S. military employee for disposing of a woman’s body, the U.S. military in Okinawa have implemented new measures banning late-night excursions and alcohol consumption off base. Onaga said that he acknowledged Nicholson’s sincerity, but added, “The fundamental problem is that 74 percent of facilities designated for exclusive use by the U.S. military in Japan are located in Okinawa, which only makes up 0.6 percent of Japan’s land mass. Any discussion of a reduction of burden must include a discussion of revising the Status of Forces Agreement,” expressing his intent to pay close attention to how the U.S. deals with the situation.

Governor Onaga spoke to the press after the telephone conversation with Lieutenant General Nicholson. According to Onaga, in response to the fact that Onaga was unable to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama to convey Okinawa’s position despite having asked Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to arrange such a meeting, Nicholson said he would like to create opportunities for Okinawan sentiment to be conveyed to U.S. military leadership. Onaga asked Nicholson for his assistance in creating such opportunities.

Regarding Nicholson’s explanation of the new measures put in place by the U.S. military in Okinawa, Onaga said, “People in Okinawa have protested hundreds of times for decades since the end of World War II. I accept [Nicholson’s] sincerity, but unfortunately, I think that the Okinawan people do not have much confidence that [the measures] will lead to the prevention of recurring crimes.”

(English translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)

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