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HOME  > Past issues  > 2009 November 11 - 17  > Okinawans demand that U.S. forces hand over suspect
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2009 November 11 - 17 [OKINAWA]

Okinawans demand that U.S. forces hand over suspect

November 12, 13, and 14, 2009
Okinawan local leaders on November 10 made representations to the U.S. Embassy demanding that a U.S. serviceman, now in the custody of the U.S. Army Garrison Torii Station in Okinawa for allegedly causing a hit-and-run resulting in the death of a man in Yomitan Village, be handed over without delay to Japanese authorities even before the indictment.

They included representatives of the organizing committee for a rally held on November 8 in Ginowan to demand the immediate closure of the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station in Ginowan City and the cancellation of the plan to move the Futenma base to a coastal zone in Nago City.

Ginowan Mayor Iha Yoichi and Naha Mayor Onaga Takeshi met with Minister Counselor Robert S. Luke of the U.S. Embassy and lodged a protest about the incident.

Luke has reportedly stated that the serviceman’s handover will take place following the indictment in accordance with the Japan-U.S. Status of U.S. Forces in Japan Agreement (SOFA).

Japanese Communist Party member of the House of Representatives Akamine Seiken said to Luke that the wish of Okinawans that U.S. bases in Okinawa be reduced and dismantled. Akamine stated that the offender should be handed over even before indictment.

Okinawan representatives also visited the Cabinet Office and the Foreign Ministry to hand a copy of the resolution adopted by the November 8 rally in Okinawa.

They also visited the Foreign Ministry and the Cabinet Office demanding that the Japanese government take steps to realize the earliest possible handover to Japan of the suspect.

Demand handover of the suspect!: JCP Okinawa to Okinawa governor

Representatives of the JCP Okinawa Prefectural Committee on November 11 visited the prefectural office to request that Okinawa Governor Nakaima Masahiro lodge a protest to the U.S. Army commander in Okinawa about the hit-and-run incident.

Insisting that it is essential to thoroughly investigate the case, they said that the soldier involved in the case be handed over to the Japanese police immediately prior to indictment.

A prefectural official said that the governor will make representations to the U.S. soon after the investigation by the police is conducted, but stopped short of agreeing to demand that the suspect be handed over to the Japanese police before the indictment.

Toguchi Osamu, JCP member of the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly, said that the U.S. commander, Col. James E. Woodard allegedly told Yomitan Mayor Yasuda Keizo that he will deal with the request of an earlier handover in a forward-looking manner. Given the response, the prefectural government should no longer take the same weak-kneed attitude as before, Toguchi said.

JCP Okinawa to other Okinawa authorities

The Okinawa Prefectural Committee of the Japanese Communist Party on November 12 also demanded that Okinawa Police, the Foreign Ministry Okinawa Office, and the Okinawa Defense Bureau put pressure on the U.S. forces in Japan to turn the U.S. serviceman, who committed a hit-and-run and killed a Japanese man, over to Japan.

JCP member of the Yomitan Village Assembly Isa Shinbu said, “In order to conduct a proper and immediate investigation into the incident, the suspect should be placed in the custody of the Japanese police.”

Yomitan Village Assembly also calls for handover

The Yomitan Village Assembly in Okinawa on November 13 unanimously adopted a resolution requesting that the U.S. forces handover the soldier who was being questioned within the U.S. base by Okinawa Police. The assembly also calls for drastic revision of the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA).

Reportedly, the suspect is being ordered to stay in the U.S. Army Garrison Torii Station in Yomitan Village and continuing to engage in routine work to a limited extent.
- Akahata, November 12, 13, and 14, 2009
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