Subject: [cwj 50] Okinawa protests at US marine's sexual assault
From: Corporate Watch in Japanese <>
Date: Wed, 05 Jul 2000 15:30:41 -0700
Seq: 50

Okinawa protests at US marine's sexual assault

TOKYO, July 5 (AFP) - 

Japan's Okinawa island broke into angry protests Wednesday after a drunken
US marine was accused of sexually molesting a 14-year-old school girl in
her home.

Okinawa's prefectural assembly demanded apologies from the US embassy and
military authorities.

And 100 labor unionists staged a rally demanding the removal of US bases on
the sub-tropical island, which host two thirds of the 47,000 US troops
stationed in Japan.

The row threatened to damage already tense relations between islanders and
US troops just two weeks before US President Bill Clinton was scheduled to
visit for a July 21-23 Group of Eight summit.

The 19-year-old US marine was arrested after allegedly sneaking into an
unlocked apartment in Okinawa City and molesting the local junior high
school girl early Monday, police said.

The girl's mother called the police as she saw the marine getting on top of
her, police said.

The marine, whose name was withheld because of his age, denied the charges.
"We can never accept such a crime happening in spite of the stern protests
we had previously lodged against crimes committed by US military
personnel," the 48-member assembly said in an unanimously adopted resolution.

The island erupted in fury in 1995 after the rape of a 12-year-old Okinawan
girl by three US servicemen, leading to a US promise to reduce the heavy
concentration of US forces there.

A similar scale of protest is unlikely this time.

The Okinawa protest resolution was sent to US Ambassador Thomas Foley and
local US military chiefs including Lieutenant General Earl Hailston, chief
of US forces in Okinawa.

"I want to express to the family involved, as well as to the people of
Okinawa, my sincerest apology and most profound regret for the incident and
for the anxiety it has created," Hailston said in a statement.

He promised to reinforce discipline.

The assembly's resolution noted 22 crimes committed by US military
personnel this year, compared with 14 last year.

"I feel strong anger because this kind of cruel crime occurred despite
repeated protests by the Okinawan people since the 1995 rape," Okinawa City
mayor Masakazu Nakasone said in a protest letter to the US forces.

But after meeting Hailston and local US marine chiefs at the US marine
headquarters in Okinawa, he told reporters that "the summit and the
incident are totally separate."

"I will not raise this incident if I ever have the chance to meet the
president," he said.

Labor union members demonstrated outside the main gate of the marine
headquarters, chanting, "Down with the indecent assault" and "Remove the
bases," according to press reports.

"We are angry because this kind of crime occurred when police are
excessively reinforcing security ahead of the summit," said Yoshikazu
Nakasone, head of the Okinawa Peace Action Centre.

But the protests were unlikely to grow to the size of those in 1995, said
Nakasone, whose group organised the rally.

The Okinawa Peace Action Centre aims to encircle the Kadena US air base in
Okinawa with 25,000 people on July 20 in a protest against the US military
presence timed for the eve of the summit.

The US military has been in Okinawa since fierce battles in the closing
days of World War II and it directly ruled the island until 1972 when the
territory was handed back to Japan.

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