Anger is fueled among residents in Okinawa when the rape against a local woman (October 16) was reported in which two US sailors involved. Simple amendment of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) is not sufficient in order to terminate heinous incidents and accidents committed by US servicemen. The bilateral Security Treaty itself must be abolished and the foreign bases must be removed.
US BASES MUST BE WITHDRAWN TO END CRIMES
On the following day October 17, a protest rally was held to express anger in front of the Camp Zukeran where headquarters of the US troops in Okinawa is stationed. Governor Nakaima Hirokazu visited the Ministry of Defense in Tokyo to protest, rigorously accusing the rape case and referring to it as 'mad and insane'. The governor demanded to revise the SOFA.
On October 22 the prefecture assembly unanimously adopted a resolution of protest and an argument letter. The resolution points out that, in addition to the forced deployment of the tilt-rotor MV22 Ospreys, a local woman was sexually assaulted and thus residents cannot keep patience anymore and that people demand a total withdrawal of the US bases from the islands.
Discrimination Lies behind Crimes
Governor Nakaima visited the United States and made a strong protest to Assistant Secretary of State Kurt M. Campbell (for East Asia and Pacific Affairs) and Assistant Secretary of Defense Mark Lippert (Asia and Pacific Security Affairs), handing a letter of demand. It says '(Governor) requests the US authorities to order a stricter discipline and take concrete and effective measures to prevent a recurrence of similar incidents'.
In the Okinawan archipelago an extraordinary number of inhabitants were killed in the ground combat operations. It was the sole stage of a land war during the Asia-Pacific War. It is 40 years since Okinawa returned under the jurisdiction of Japanese Government, but discriminatory measures have been implemented by the Government and major institutions of the mainland in the name of the Japan-US Alliance. The discriminatory structure remains the same today. One of the typical examples is the recent deployment of Ospreys in the Futenma Air Station of the US Marines.
The rape case occurred in the midst of day-by-day protest rallies against deployment of the military aircraft. The Japanese Government simply made a make-shift response, making 'a strong protest' and demanding 'a stricter discipline'.
Criminal acts involved by US soldiers have never ceased in Okinawa. From 1972 when the archipelago returned through 2009 in total 5,643 arrests were made, in which 562 cases were felonies, including rapes (the 2010 Statistics, Okinawa Prefecture Police Office). A rape is an offense subject to prosecution only on complaint from the victim and so no lawsuit can be filed without accusation from the victim. Therefore so many cases have been concealed. The actual number of crimes is far beyond the statistics. Such crimes are not limited to Okinawa, but extend across the nation, including Iwakuni and Yokosuka where US military bases are stationed.
As Long As Japan-US Security Treaty Exists
Those US soldiers accused by the Japanese police authorities have been well protected with extra-judicial treatment approved by the SOFA. As for criminal conducts, the US Martial Court laws precede and the Japanese Criminal Procedure Code does not work.
Under these circumstances US servicemen have repeated criminal acts. Since 1995 when a schoolgirl was raped by the US soldiers the US military has pledged to 'pay favorable respect to local people with an exception of during public missions', but the decision-making right is entrusted to the United States side.
As far as the government depends on the military alliance as a basis in the bilateral relations, Okinawa is regarded as a colony where extra-judicial rules control the residents and thus felonies involved by US soldiers do not end in real sense.
It is the time for the Government of Japan to immediately revise SOFA within the scope to abandon the bilateral Security Treaty and withdraw US bases and reexamine the so-called Omoiyari-yosan, 'a budget to favor the US military'.
November 6, 2012