A Japanese police officer stands guard outside the U.S. Consulate in Urasoe, Okinawa, Tuesday, May 16, 2023

A Japanese police officer stands guard outside the U.S. Consulate in Urasoe, Okinawa, Tuesday, May 16, 2023 (Keishi Koja/Stars and Stripes)

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Japanese police this week arrested a protester opposed to the U.S. military presence on the island with a suspected pipe bomb outside the U.S. Consulate.

The same protester, Akino Miyagi, 44, of Higashi village, reportedly attempted to take a rifle from a U.S. Marine whose squad wandered into the village from the Jungle Warfare Training Center at Camp Gonsalves in December.

Okinawa prefectural police took Miyagi into custody at 10:22 a.m. Monday, a police spokesman told Stars and Stripes by phone Tuesday. Police said Miyagi brandished a metal pipe and threatened to throw it.

She was wearing a T-shirt that read, “A present to America, made with gunpowder from U.S. military waste in the World Heritage site in Yanbaru,” Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported Tuesday.

No one was hurt in the incident, according to Beatrice Camp, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Consulate General Naha.

"We are grateful to the police for their quick response," she said in an email Tuesday.

Miyagi, a writer and self-described "butterfly scientist," was still in custody Tuesday and could face a charge of obstructing police in performance of their public duties, the police spokesman said. The case was expected to be sent to prosecutors on Tuesday.

A bomb squad seized and analyzed the pipe, which was hollow and filled with unused bullets collected from former U.S. training areas, Okinawa Times reported Tuesday. The device did not contain a detonator, according to NHK.

An attorney for Miyagi said the device was a flare she collected from a former U.S. training area in the northern part of the island, Okinawa Times said.

Miyagi has denied the obstruction charge, the police spokesman said. If convicted, she faces up to three years in prison and $3,700 in fines, according to the Japanese penal code.

Some government officials in Japan speak to the media on condition of anonymity as a requirement of their employment.

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Keishi Koja is an Okinawa-based reporter/translator who joined Stars and Stripes in August 2022. He studied International Communication at the University of Okinawa and previously worked in education.
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Matthew M. Burke has been reporting from Okinawa for Stars and Stripes since 2014. The Massachusetts native and UMass Amherst alumnus previously covered Sasebo Naval Base and Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, for the newspaper. His work has also appeared in the Boston Globe, Cape Cod Times and other publications.

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