A massive rally is being prepared by political parties, businesses and civic groups in Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture to protest the latest raping and killing of a local girl by a former U.S. marine.
According to Japan’s Kyodo news agency on Tuesday, the protesters are expected to adopt a resolution of protest to present to the Japanese and U.S. governments.
Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga, who requested Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday arrange a meeting between him and U.S. President Barack Obama, is likely to attend the rally.
As governor of Okinawa Prefecture, which hosts the bulk of U.S. military bases in Japan, Onaga said he wanted to directly speak to Obama to ensure the safety of the prefectural residents’ lives and property.
Kenneth Franklin Shinzato, a former U.S. Marine and resident of Yonabaru Town in Okinawa who works for the U.S. military, was arrested on Thursday as evidence found that he had dumped the corpse of 20-year-old Rina Shimabukuro in a forested area around midnight on April 28.
Shinzato, who works at the U.S. Air Force’s Kadena Air Base and lives with his wife and child, admitted that he dumped the corpse after he raped and strangled the Japanese woman.
Police are now preparing a murder charge against Shinzato.
Okinawa hosts some 75 percent of U.S. bases in Japan. There have been mass protests over the years by the island’s residents following incidents of rape or other crimes and misdemeanors by U.S. military personnel stationed there.
After Shinzato’s arrest, around 2,000 people protested in front of a Marine base in central Okinawa on Sunday and called for the removal of U.S. bases on the island prefecture.
The protesters wanted the United States to fully withdraw its military bases from Okinawa, instead of relocating them within the island prefecture.
Misconduct by U.S. personnel working at the military bases in Okinawa has been a constant source fueling tensions and anger, and triggering protests in Okinawa.
In March, U.S. Navy sailor Justin Castellanos was arrested after raping a woman in a hotel in Naha City, the capital of Okinawa. The 24-year-old sailor was based at the U.S. Marines’ Camp Schwab in the northern part of the island.
Around 85,000 people were mobilized to protest in 1995 after a 12-year-old Okinawan schoolgirl was savagely gang-raped by three U.S. servicemen.
Regarding the latest incident, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida late Thursday summoned U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy to lodge a protest,calling the case “very cruel and atrocious.”
Abe said on Friday that he will bring up the case with Obama at the Group of Seven leaders’ summit to be held in Japan next week, which Obama will attend while making a visit to Hiroshima. Enditem