Okinawa lawmakers pass protest resolution against Marines
By CHIYOMI SUMIDA | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 27, 2016
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Okinawa lawmakers unanimously adopted a protest resolution Thursday calling for the Marine Corps to withdraw completely from the island prefecture after a U.S. base worker was arrested in the death of a 20-year-old woman.
“Such a brutal act by a civilian military employee, who is a former Marine, was absolutely unacceptable,” says the prefectural assembly’s strongly worded declaration. It demands that all Marines leave the island that was returned to Japan from the U.S. post World War II military administration in 1972.
“Pains and sorrow of the family are immeasurable, and a torrent of anger is growing among people of Okinawa,” says the resolution, which was adopted during an emergency meeting by a majority from ruling parties that support anti-base Gov. Takeshi Onaga, while the opposition, including the Liberal Democratic Party, abstained.
The resolution also questions the effectiveness of preventive education by the U.S. military after past crimes by U.S. servicemembers, and demands a drastic reduction in the U.S. military presence on the island, the closure of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and the cancellation of a plan to move Futenma’s operations to Okinawa’s remote north.
Although such a declaration has no binding power, the prefectural assembly has issued 207 protest resolutions against military-related incidents or accidents in the past 44 years, according to the assembly record.
The body of Rina Shimabukuro was found May 19 in a wooded area. Kenneth Franklin Gadson, a former Marine who goes by his wife’s family name of Shinzato and works for a military contractor at Kadena Air Base, was arrested on suspicion of the illegal disposal of her body.
Also on Thursday, the Japanese government set up a crime-prevention team on Okinawa. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference that the team was created in an effort to prevent such an incident from happening again.
“The government will make utmost and every possible effort to ensure the safety of people of Okinawa,” he said.