Okinawan people should continue fight for change: lawmaker
Updated: 2016-06-20 11:52
Protesters raise placards reading "Anger was over the limit" during a rally against the U.S. military presence on the island and a series of crimes and other incidents involving U.S. soldiers and base workers, at a park in the prefectural capital Naha on Japan's southern island of Okinawa, Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo June 19, 2016.[Photo/Agencies]
NAHA, Japan -- "The Japanese and American governments regard Okinawa as their 'military colony' and the Okinawan people should continue their fight to change the status quo," said Kantoku Teruya, a member of the lower house of the Japanese parliament from Okinawa during an exclusive interview with Xinhua recently.
A 20-year-old woman was raped and strangled by a former US marine in April. The Okinawan police issued a further arrest warrant on June 9 on the already detained base worker who stands accused of raping the deceased in a grassy area beside the road in Uruma in central Okinawa before stabbing her to death and dumping her body in a forested area.
The Japanese and American governments promised many times that they would introduce effective measures to eradicate crimes, but this issue remains unresolved," Teruya said, adding that he believes the root the problem is the disproportionate number of bases being hosted on the tiny island.
Okinawa hosts some 75 percent of U.S. bases in Japan, yet the tiny sub-tropical island accounts for less than 1 percent of the county's total land mass. Local citizens have become increasingly irate at their base-hosting burdens and the central government's ongoing pandering to the U.S.'s requests, amid rising instances of crime, noise and pollution connected to the bases.
According to the latest statistics, since the reversion of Okinawa from the United States in 1972 to the end of May this year, the prefecture saw 5,910 crimes in total with 575 of them being viciously committed by members and civilian workers of the U.S. forces and their relatives.
Teruya pointed out as the US-Japan Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) gives US troops immunity from Japanese prosecution, the American soldiers have nothing to fear, believing that they'll get away from any crime they commit once they are inside the bases.
In Teruya's eyes, the only way out is to let the voices of the Okinawan people heard in the international community no matter how long it takes.
The Abe administration tries to move the Futenma military base located in the crowded residential area of Ginowan to a less populated area in Henoko despite the objections of the Okinawan people. Teruya said the reason the relocation plan hasn't been successful is the continued protest of the local people here.