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HOME  > Past issues  > 2016 July 20 - 26  > Patrols to prevent US soldiers’ crimes will be used to monitor anti-base Okinawans
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2016 July 20 - 26 [US FORCES]

Patrols to prevent US soldiers’ crimes will be used to monitor anti-base Okinawans

July 21 & 23, 2016
The Defense Ministry is planning to have Japanese patrol units in Okinawa, who are dispatched there to prevent U.S. servicepersons from committing crimes, monitor Okinawans engaged in campaigns opposing the construction of U.S. military facilities. Akahata revealed this on July 21.

Many Okinawans have expressed their anger with the Abe government for suppressing Okinawans’ anti-base movements while stating that it will work to “protect the safety of local residents”.

Following the rape and murder of a young Japanese woman by a former U.S. marine in Okinawa’s Uruma City in late April, the Abe administration decided in June to send patrol units to the prefecture for crime prevention.

Akahata recently obtained an internal document which the Defense Ministry sent on June 23 to its seven regional bureaus across the country. The document describes a plan to dispatch a total of 60 defense officials to Okinawa in rotation from mid-July to December. It requests the local bureaus to send “male officials”, noting that their mission is to patrol and respond to “disturbances” by local people.

Following the July 10 Upper House election, the Abe government expressed its intent to resume the work to build a U.S. base in the Henoko coastal district in Nago City. The government is also starting the construction of U.S. helipads in the Takae district in Okinawa’s Higashi Village on July 22, aiming to finish by the end of this year. This construction period coincides with the term of deployment of 60 defense officials to Okinawa.

Akahata asked the Defense Ministry why it will assign patrol units to monitor local citizens and whether it will send the officials to the districts of Henoko and Takae. The ministry has so far given no response.

Japanese Communist Party member of the Higashi Village Assembly Isa Masatsugu said, “The Abe government stance ignoring the will of local residents is fueling Okinawans’ anger.”

* * *

The Defense Ministry on July 22 gave a response to inquiries made concerning this issue by Akahata a few days ago, explaining that after reviewing the status of dispatched officers, the authorities came to the conclusion that these officers will assume guard and security duty and not be assigned to anti-crime patrol units.

Their mission will be related to the work of relocating runways, the ministry replied.

The ministry also said that dispatched officers will handle all acts which obstruct the access of necessary personnel and vehicles to the U.S. military facility area and will remove any structures and vehicles which are illegally placed on public roads leading to the facility.

Past related article:
> Tokyo resumes US helipad construction work in Okinawa even after Abe Cabinet minister’s defeat [July 12, 2016]
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