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HOME  > Past issues  > 2012 December 12 - 18  > Okinawans remain under constant threat of US crimes
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2012 December 12 - 18 [OKINAWA]

Okinawans remain under constant threat of US crimes

December 13, 2012
Houses in eating and drinking districts near U.S. bases in Okinawa often have iron-barred windows. Local residents have installed them to protect their lives and property from the repeated crimes by U.S. servicemen.

The U.S. Forces Japan Command recently imposed a curfew and prohibition of alcohol off base during curfew hours on U.S. soldiers following a string of incidents, including the gang-rape of a Japanese woman by American sailors.

Near Camp Hansen in Kin Town, for example, over 100 restaurants, including bars and night clubs, stand along a national highway running in front of the camp.

Iron-barred windows and iron fences around houses and shops are found throughout that district. In addition to first and second floor windows, windows of the third or fourth floors are often fitted with bars.

Kin Town assemblyman Sakihama Hideyuki, who was brought up in the town, said, “In my childhood, nobody used to lock their doors. We began to lock up our houses after the U.S. Marine base was constructed after the Second World War.”

In spite of these protective measures, U.S. soldiers have been known tear off the iron bars, kick doors down and enter, assault women, and take away alcoholic drinks and food. After the return of Okinawa to Japan in 1972, two Japanese were killed in the town by American servicemen.

Once, the means of resistance invited tragedy. In the 1980s when a fire broke out at a Pilipino pub, two Filipina were burned to death as they failed to get out due to the iron-barred windows.

Kinjo Atsuko, 56, runs a snack bar in the district. A roof of her house was destroyed three years ago by an American soldier who tried to break into the residence of her next-door neighbor. On Sakihama’s advice, she consulted with Akamine Seiken, a Japanese Communist Party Lower House member. Backed by the two, Kinjo lodged a protest with the U.S. authorities and the Okinawa Defense Bureau and obtained compensation for the damage.

Kinjo stated flatly, “As long as we have U.S. bases here, American soldiers will be involved in incidents.”

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