People offer prayers for woman murdered by civilian in U.S. military employ six years ago

People offer prayers for woman murdered by civilian in U.S. military employ six years ago

Katsuhiro Yoshida offering a silent prayer in front of a flower table around 6:45 a.m. on April 28 in Afuso, Onna Village

April 28, 2022 Ryukyu Shimpo


April 28 marked six years since the incident in 2016 in which a woman out walking in the central region of Okinawa Island was murdered by a civilian man in U.S. military employ who formerly belonged to the Marine Corps. People have come to mourn the deceased woman at the site where her body was found in Afuso, Onna Village. People have brought flowers to set on a flower table placed at the site, and quietly offered their prayers there.

Former Kin Town Mayor Katsuhiro Yoshida, 77, who set up the flower table around 6:00 a.m. that morning, said, “An incident such as this must not be forgotten, and must not be repeated.” After the incident, Yoshida has kept formerly offered dolls and paper cranes safe, and has collectively displayed these items on the flower table on the anniversary of the woman’s death.

As for Yoshida’s reason for setting up the flower table, he touched on incidents that have left wounds borne by Okinawans, including an incident in October 2021 in which a U.S. Marine raped a woman. Yoshida said, “Even now, incidents related to the U.S. Armed Forces are never-ending. I want us to use the incident as an impetus for considering how Okinawa ought to be.”

“You will not be forgotten.” Before going to work, a man, 58, visited the site and silently prayed after offering flowers on the flower table. He said, “My daughter is about the age of the deceased woman. The victim of the incident could have been my daughter. Changing the current circumstances in which U.S. Armed Forces-related incidents repeatedly occur is a responsibility for the adults.”

A woman in her 70s visited from Ginowan City. She said, “I visit here every year so as to inform my children and grandchildren about it.” She added, “Short of the troops no longer being here U.S. military incidents and accidents will not be eliminated. How long do the Japanese and US governments plan to trample Okinawa underfoot, I wonder.”

The site where the woman’s body was found is in a grove of trees near to a low-traffic prefectural road. Sometimes the sounds of target practice from the nearby Camp Hansen can be heard ringing out at the site.

(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)



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