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SECURITY > Okinawa

Okinawan legislators protest to GOJ, ConGen Naha on base worker incident

A delegation of Okinawa Prefectural Assembly members headed by Seiryo Arakaki visited the offices of Okinawa Defense Bureau Director General Kazunori Inoue and Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) ambassador to Okinawa Masashi Mizukami where they handed a protest resolution making six demands. Even Liberal Democratic Party assembly members pressed strongly for “reconsideration of the national defense structure.” The lawmakers protested and asserted that “the Okinawan people are beginning to clamor for the removal of all U.S. bases.”

 

The assembly members’ group also presented a written statement to the U.S. Consulate General in Okinawa and the office of the U.S. Forces Okinawa Area Coordinator.

 

After the protest activities, Arakaki angrily told reporters: “The U.S. Consulate General’s perception is that the number of crimes and accidents is decreasing. They only apologized after we pointed it out [otherwise]. I felt that the United States thinks of Okinawa as a colony.”

 

Inoue apologized after he was handed the protest resolution. He said: “I have asked the U.S. side to take measures that give maximum consideration to the feelings of the victim’s family.”

 

Inoue told the Okinawan lawmakers: “We are working on the consolidation and reduction of bases through the realignment of U.S. Forces Japan (USFJ).” However, the Okinawans responded by saying: “We are not seeking a solution through USFJ realignment, such as by constructing a new military base in Henoko.” They demanded the withdrawal of the U.S. Marines.

 

Mizukami apologized and commented on the fact that the suspect is a USFJ civilian employee with SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement) status. He said: “I think this should not be the case.” He also indicated that he would refrain from responding to the demand in the protest resolution for the withdrawal of the Marines.

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