4,000 Okinawans rally against US base over murder of Japanese woman

Tokyo, May 25 (IANS) Around 4,000 people in Okinawa rallied in front of the US Kadena Air Base on Wednesday, protesting against the murder of a local woman by a US military-affiliated civilian.

The protesters, including National Diet members, held banners and shouted slogans such as “remove all US air bases” “New air base in Henoko, NO!” and “Okinawa does not want air bases”, Xinhua news agency reported.

“The people in Okinawa suffered a lot in the past 71 years on account of the air bases. We have had enough,” said Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine at the gathering.

“The anger of the Okinawa people has reached the peak, with such incidents happening again and again. We can never put up with the air bases. US air bases not only in Okinawa but in other places of Japan shall all be scrapped,” said a protester.

The rally came up with a statement, demanding scaling down US bases, revising the Japan-US Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), and abandoning the plan of relocating a US base to Henoko.

A 20-year-old woman was raped and strangled by a former US Marine last month. Her body was dumped in a forested area.

Criminal cases involving US military men repeatedly happened in Okinawa. A US Navy sailor was arrested in March after raping a woman in a hotel in Naha city, the capital of Okinawa.

Local parliaments of seven cities in Okinawa have passed petitions, demanding the Japanese and US governments come up with fundamental measures to protect local residents in Okinawa from being hurt by US soldiers.

–IANS

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