Serious crimes by US personnel occur more than once a month in Okinawa
Okinawans are raising outcries against the recent arrest of an ex-U.S. marine on suspicion of killing a Japanese woman. Such serious crimes involving U.S. military personnel have taken place in Okinawa more than once a month on average for the last 40 years, Akahata reported on May 26.
Since the reversion of Okinawa to Japan in 1972, Okinawa Police arrested 575 U.S. servicepersons and U.S. civilian personnel for major crimes: 394 robberies, 130 rapes, 26 murders, and 25 cases of arson. If more minor crimes are included, the total number of crimes committed by the U.S. soldiers and U.S. civilian employees reaches 5,907 as of April 2016.
Nearly half of U.S. crimes in Japan are committed in Okinawa. Between 1989 and 2015, 1,900 crimes occurred on the southern island, followed by 808 in Kanagawa which hosts seven U.S. bases. This situation reflects the concentration of U.S. troops in Okinawa. In addition, as of March 2015, 49,000 U.S. servicemen are stationed in Japan and 27,000 of them in Okinawa.
“Outrageous crimes will continue to happen as long as a large number of U.S. military personnel are deployed in Okinawa,” Nago City Mayor Inamine Susumu on May 25 stressed in a rally held to protest the latest incident of the abandoning of the Japanese woman’s body after she was brutally raped and murdered.
Although held in the afternoon of a weekday, the rally attracted around 4,000 people who filled the road before a gate of U.S. Kadena base for 300 meters. This rally was organized by the All Okinawa Council consisting of civic organizations, political parties, and business owners opposing a plan to construct a new U.S. base in Nago’s Henoko district.
Japanese Communist Party Lower House member Akamine Seiken in his speech pointed out that the Japanese government has never squarely faced up to Okinawans’ hardships. He criticized Tokyo for being totally irresponsible. Akamine said, “Let’s work together to strengthen public movements for an Okinawa without U.S. bases.”