Protesters numbering 2,500 request ban on US military personnel staying at lodging off base

Protesters numbering 2,500 request ban on US military personnel staying at lodging off base

Participants objecting to incidents of sexual violence against women by U.S. military members at the March 21 emergency protest at around 3 p.m. in front of Camp Schwab in Henoko (Photograph taken by Masatoshi Moromizato)

March 22, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo

On March 21, a prefectural citizens’ rally (organized by peace groups and citizens’ groups) opposing base relocation within Okinawa held an emergency protest in front of the gate to Camp Schwab. This emergency protest was a reaction to the March 13 rape incident in Naha, committed by a naval soldier stationed on Camp Schwab. According to the organizers of the protest, their goal participation had been 1,000 people, but in reality 2,500 people gathered. A participant stated that these kinds of incidents by American military members have occurred over and over again, and that Okinawan citizens’ anger is reaching its peak.

A written resolution from the emergency protest states that in order to ensure protection of the victim’s human rights and to show remorse, the Liberty Policy regulating alcohol consumption by naval forces and late-night activity off base should be strengthened, and there should be a ban on allowing U.S. military personnel at lodging throughout Okinawa. The protesters also requested revision of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty and withdrawal of U.S. forces from Okinawa. The prefectural citizens’ rally that held the emergency protest is composed of the Okinawa Peace Movement Center and the Helicopter Base Objection Association, among others.

At the emergency protest Mayor of Nago Susumu Inamine and Suzuyo Takazato each took the podium representing the women’s group Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence. Each requested that the plan for construction of a new base at Henoko as a replacement facility for Futenma be abandoned.

The rape incident took place on March 13 in a hotel in Naha. Naha City Office added suspicion that the victim was incapacitated to the sexual assault charge against the naval soldier stationed on Camp Schwab. He has been arrested on suspicion of committing rape against a victim incapable of consent. On March 22, the Prefectural Assembly made a resolution of protest, which along with the resolution from the emergency protest, predicts that the naval soldier will be unanimously found guilty of both sexual assault and incapacitated rape.

(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)

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