Japan's Okinawa residents hold mass rally to protest US military crimes
Updated: 2016-06-19 18:09
TOKYO - Tens of thousands of protestors took to the streets of Okinawa in Japan's southernmost Prefecture on Sunday to express their ongoing anger at the disproportionate presence of US military personnel on the island and the crimes committed by them, in particular the brutal rape and murder of a local women by a base-linked worker recently.
The rally took place in a park in Naha, the capital city of Okinawa, and saw around 65,000 protestors united in calling for the withdrawal of the US military on the island and the urgent review over an archaic agreement inked between the United States and Japan governing the handling of incidents caused by US military personnel in Japan.
The protesters, the majority of whom were dressed in black in spite of the scorching heat to show their respects for the murdered women, holding placards and shouting slogans like "US Military Out!" and "How many more crimes will we suffer?" as well as "Relocate the (US) bases outside Okinawa," and chanting like "We want our land back!"
The rally, the biggest organized protest in Okinawa since three US servicemen viciously raped an elementary schoolgirl in 1995, follows the alleged rape, murder and dumping of a 20-year-old local woman by Kenneth Franklin Shinzato, 32, a former US Marine.
Shinzato stands accused of raping the deceased in a grassy area beside the road in Uruma in central Okinawa, as the young lady was walking home before stabbing her to death with a knife on April 28.
Initially, Shinzato told investigators he had struck the women multiple times from behind with a metal bar and stabbed her repeatedly. There were also reports that Shinzato also attempted to strangle his victim whom he'd been driving around to search for, for as long as 3 hours prior to the premeditated attack.
The accused has not been cooperating with local investigators and has remained silent regarding pertinent information to the murder, such as the location of the knife and his motive, although the metal bar has been retrieved from a water channel. Investigators have said that Shizato has remained silent during interrogations since May 20.