US, Japan wrangle over Okinawa murder

An American man working at a U.S. military base on the Japanese island of Okinawa was arrested Thursday on suspicion of dumping the body of a 20-year-old Japanese woman.

The case is likely to stir up anti-U.S. sentiment ahead of an impending visit later this week by U.S. President Barack Obama.

After the incident, the Governor of Okinawa, Takeshi Onaga, has requested a meeting with President Obama and demanded an immediate “drastic” review of the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement, which, in part, decrees how U.S. military and military-affiliated personnel are dealt with in Japan.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzon Abe has also indicated his intentions to discuss the matter with Obama, likely to take place on the sidelines of a two-day Group of Seven leaders’ summit.

More than 70 years after Japan’s defeat in World War II, Okinawa continues to host the bulk of U.S. military facilities in Japan. But the heavy US military presence on Okinawa has long been a thorn in the side of relations. And the decades-long debate continues among the Japanese people.

“The American worker should be blamed. It’ s beyond argument that the key cause of such an incident is on whether the suspect himself is a good or bad person and whether he is well-educated. It doesn’t matter where it happened, either in Japan or the U.S.

“The U.S. military bases in Okinawa should be blamed. Many Americans go there alone, without companions of their families, which is a reason behind such incidents.

“Crimes by U.S. military personnel in Okinawa have been commonly reported. But there is no clear comparison between the crime rate of Americans in Okinawa and that of local Japanese people. I’ m not in favor of blaming the U.S.government just because there are some Americans committing crimes in Okinawa.”

Okinawa hosts some 75 percent of U.S. bases in Japan, with local citizens becoming increasingly irritate at their base-hosting burdens amid rising instances of crimes by Americans.

Anti-U.S. sentiment has been steadily rising on the island, and spiked in 1995, when an elementary schoolgirl was savagely gang-raped by three U.S. servicemen.

Local residents are planning a major anti-US base rally next month similar in scale to the one in 1995.

Leave a Comment