Demonstrators in Okinawa, Japan demand cuts to US military bases

  On May 15, a large number of people in Okinawa, Japan held a protest rally, demanding that the size of the U.S. military base in Okinawa be reduced or even withdraw all U.S. military bases, and at the same time, the "Japan-U.S. Status Agreement" should be completely revised.

  About 70% of the US military bases stationed in Japan are concentrated in Okinawa Prefecture.

For a long time, problems such as aircraft noise, environmental pollution, aircraft safety, and US military crimes have plagued the local people at US military bases.

According to the statistics of the Okinawa police, from 1972 to 2020, there were more than 6,000 crimes committed by the US military and related personnel stationed in Okinawa, including nearly 600 murders, robbery, arson and rape.

In addition, U.S. military traffic accidents have caused more than 4,000 casualties, and U.S. military planes have crashed and made emergency landings in Okinawa many times.

Okinawa Prefecture Governor Danny Tamaki emphasized that the injuries suffered by Okinawa residents were "difficult to describe in words".

A resident of Naha City, Okinawa Prefecture told reporters that crime cases and traffic accidents of U.S. military personnel that occur from time to time still make people feel that this place is still an "American colony".

  Protected by the Japan-US Status Agreement signed in 1960, US troops stationed in Japan have extraterritorial rights and are not subject to Japanese jurisdiction.

Hiroji Yamashiro, head of the Okinawa Peace Movement Center, told this reporter that the existence of the "Japan-US Status Agreement" gives priority to the US military. "This is an absurd law, and we will not tolerate such a law."

  In mid-December last year, a new crown pneumonia outbreak broke out at the U.S. Marine Corps Hansen Barracks in Kinbu-cho, Okinawa Prefecture.

Yucheng Danny expressed strong indignation at the spread of the epidemic caused by the violation of Japan's epidemic prevention and control requirements by the US military base personnel.

He pointed out that the epidemic prevention information provided by the United States is very insufficient, which is a structural problem brought about by the "Japan-US Status Agreement".

Up to now, the Okinawa region has not effectively controlled the epidemic, and the number of newly diagnosed cases is still reaching new highs.

  The local economic development level of Okinawa has always been relatively backward, and the per capita income has been at the lowest level in Japan for a long time.

According to the poll results released by Kyodo News Agency recently, 79% of the respondents believe that Okinawa Prefecture is overburdened by the presence of US military bases.

The survey showed that 55% of the respondents expressed "dissatisfaction" with the development of Okinawa.

The percentage of respondents who thought it was "unfair" and "unfair in general" compared with the rest of Japan in terms of the burden caused by U.S. military bases in Okinawa reached 83%.

  (This newspaper, Okinawa, Japan, May 16th)

  Our reporter Yue Linwei

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