- Al Gore’s climate-changers at EPA hearings foiled by cool temperatures
- Army’s 3-D printed bombs will create ‘a whole new universe’ of deadly capabilities
- Hamas calls on Hezbollah to join in fight against Israel
- Senators to FIFA, others: Don’t reward Putin with the World Cup in 2018
- U.S. condemns Israeli shelling of shelter in Gaza
- Obamacare shoots premiums up by 88 percent in California
- Chicken pox outbreak puts illegal immigrant facility on lockdown
- Obama to Republicans: ‘Stop just hatin’ all the time’
- U.S. chemical sites vulnerable despite millions spent on security: Congress
- Driverless cars to hit the British streets by 2015
Crime, Osprey add to Okinawan anger over U.S. bases
Question of the Day
It’s the only Japanese island invaded by U.S. land forces during World War II. It endured 27 years under U.S. administration, and it continues to host two-thirds of Japan’s U.S. bases.
The 1995 rape of a schoolgirl by two Marines and a sailor spread rage across the island of about 1.4 million. Now another rape and other crimes allegedly by U.S. servicemen have triggered a new wave of anger, though the suspects make up a tiny portion of the 28,000 U.S. troops stationed here.
Some Okinawans get emotional just talking about the stress they feel living in the U.S. military’s shadow.
“Everywhere, everyone who has a daughter is feeling this way,” said Tomoharu Nakasone, a father of four daughters, choking back tears.
Mr. Nakasone, who runs an FM radio station, grew up with the bases and thought he was used to the idea, even forgiving a fatal 2009 hit-and-run by a serviceman as a mistake. But he was outraged by the latest rape — in a parking lot in October — and petrified by a bizarre incident weeks later in which a 13-year-old boy was beaten in his own home while watching TV, allegedly by a U.S. airman.
“Entering someone’s home is simply not normal. It is the lowest of human behavior,” he said.
There has always been a degree of strain between Okinawans and U.S. troops, but it has grown more pronounced in recent months, not only because of crime but because of safety concerns surrounding the MV-22 Osprey, a U.S. hybrid aircraft with tilting rotors recently brought to the island.
The U.S. troops, mostly Marines and Air Force, are stationed on Okinawa under a bilateral alliance that’s the cornerstone of Tokyo’s foreign policy.
U.S. Ambassador John Roos and the commander of the U.S. forces in Japan have apologized for the crimes, promised to cooperate with the Japanese police investigations and increased restrictions on troops.
“We take the relationship with Japan very serious,” Lt. Col. David Honchul, U.S. Forces Japan spokesman, said. “That’s why these actions have all taken place because we are trying to show the citizens of Japan that we take this serious, and we are going to address this. And it’s also telling our own service members that we take this very seriously.”
The rules were tightened further after a drunken driving accident off base last month. Now U.S. troops in Okinawa are barred from buying or consuming alcohol off-base. Even on base, sales of alcohol stop from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m.
Despite the military’s efforts, many Okinawans sound fed up with American troops.
“They are being trained to kill for war. They can’t look at a person as a human being,” said Hiyori Mekaru, a 40-year-old nurse who has lived all her life on Okinawa. “I am angry. I don’t want this kind of future, where we must have our children grow up, learning the names of military planes.”
TWT Video Picks
- Geraldo Rivera: Matt Drudge 'doing his best to stir up a civil war'
- Lois Lerner hated conservatives, new emails show
- Catholic League slams Obama: 'Do Christian lives mean so little to you?'
- HURT: Impeaching Obama is a losing strategy for the GOP
- CARSON: Rudderless U.S. foreign policy
- Patent workers paid to exercise, shop, do chores: report
- Federal judge grants 90-day stay in D.C. gun case
- Fla. mom arrested for allowing 7-year-old son to walk to park alone
- Senate overcomes first filibuster of Obama's border-spending bill
- Obama thanks Muslims for 'building the very fabric of our nation'
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world