People mourn victim killed five years ago by man in U.S. military employ, pray for no recurrence

People mourn victim killed five years ago by man in U.S. military employ, pray for no recurrence

On April 28 in Afuso, Onna Village, people join their hands and mourn the victim.

April 29, 2021 Ryukyu Shimpo


April 28 marked five years since the occurrence of an incident in which a man in U.S. military employ sexually assaulted and killed an office worker in the central part of Okinawa Island. People visited the site in Afuso, Onna Village where the woman’s body was abandoned to mourn her. With heavy hearts, they calmly prayed for such an incident to never happen again.

Letters and offerings, such as strings of paper cranes, contributed up the this point with the consent of the bereaved family have been lined up around the flower table, and even warm coffee has been offered so that the victim will not be cold.

Muneko Yabiku, 80, of Kin Town wiped away tears, saying that the victim’s “life moving forward was cut short.” Yabiku also said, “The way in which the government is pushing forward with base construction, despite many people having fallen victim to U.S. military incidents and accidents up to this point, is vexing. Isn’t there something more each of us Okinawan citizens could do?”

The first time Hanako Ueki, 47, of Uruma City visited the site she said that she did not want to let anyone weather such an incident again. She said, “The anger and sadness welled up once more. The same thing must not happen again. I want to share my thoughts with family and friends.”

Former Mayor Katsuhiro Yoshida, 76, of Kin Town, who bore responsibilities such as cleaning up the site after the incident, touched on the current state in which incidents by the U.S. military continue to occur and revision of the Status of Forces Agreement is not moving forward. He said, “[This incident is] unforgettable and must not be repeated. We must continue asking ourselves what we can do to make this happen.”

(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)


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