Protesters tell U.S.
'bases must go'
7,000 people rallied in the central Okinawan city of Ginowan July 15, outraged
by a recent sexual assault committed by a U.S. soldier. Many demonstrators
braved hours under the scorching sun. Others found shade under red umbrellas,
hats, and banners emblazoned with large white and yellow letters, "No!" Other
signs and banners echoed the demand, "No to U.S.
U.S. Marine stationed at a base in Okinawa is charged with sexually assaulting a
14-year-old girl. Another U.S. soldier was involved in a hit-and-run collision
that injured a Japanese civilian. The incidents reveal a pattern in recent years
of sexual offenses and other crimes against young Okinawan
October 1998, a U.S. Marine hit and killed a young girl while he was driving
drunk. In September 1995, three U.S. Marines raped a 12-year-old Okinawan girl,
leading to fierce demonstrations by hundreds of thousands of
latest offenses have hit a nerve with many Okinawans who say "enough is enough."
Now, their anger at the U.S. military presence on their soil is being directed
into mass protests organized throughout the island
protests will target President Clinton's planned July 21 visit for the "Group of
8" summit meeting, which is being held in Northern Okinawa's Nago region, where
a new U.S. base is planned. The G8 brings together leaders from the world's
richest imperialist countries and
was a separate kingdom until a 16th-century invasion by Japan, its neighbor
several hundred miles to the north. In the late 19th century, Japan annexed the
50-plus islands in the East China Sea that make up
imperialism defeated Japanese imperialism in World War II and carried out
nuclear attacks that leveled Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Ever since, hundreds of
thousands of U.S. troops have been stationed throughout
between the U.S. and Japanese imperialist armies in World War II, Okinawa was
subjected to relentless bombing by artillery and air assault. Two-fifths of the
Okinawan civilian population were killed in the
the war, the United States controlled the islands until 1972. Okinawa was
returned to Japan on the condition that U.S. bases remain
do the residents of Okinawa get from the Pentagon in return for the use of their
island? They are subjected to intense noise pollution from high-velocity jet
engines, environmental devastation, sexual abuse by military personnel, and
frequent denial of support from U.S. fathers of children born to Okinawan
a 1997 referendum Okinawans voted overwhelmingly to get the U.S. bases out. In
response, Tokyo and Washington did
houses more than half of all U.S. military bases, hardware and personnel
currently stationed in Japan. This leaves only about three-fifths of Okinawa's
inhabitable territory for
Japanese Treasury pays some $6 billion of the cost of the U.S. military
bases--angering Okinawans and Japanese alike.
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