Protests Against Alleged Rape by US Marine in Okinawa

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( — March 24, 2016) —US soldiers are not being good neighbors, claim thousands of concerned Okinawa residents who protested against the rape by US Marine.

The population’s anger is supported by the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly. The officials condemned the rape.

The assembly asked for Japan to review its Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the US. Local lawmakers also asked for a reduction of US military bases on Okinawa island, reports the CNN.

The first protests began earlier in March, when the island police arrested Justin Castellanos, who was based at the US Navy’s Camp Schwab.

The US sailor was indicted for raping a woman, a Japanese tourist, at a hotel in Naha in the south of Okinawa. Allegedly, he found the woman asleep in the hotel corridor, and took her into his hotel room and raped her.

Local authorities are investigating the case.

Justin Castellanos denied the charges, but Governor of Okinawa, Takeshi Onaga, confirmed the incident had taken place, and the case has triggered massive anger in Okinawa.

Residents of the Japanese island say this is not the first time such an incident has occurred, referring to the gang rape of a 12 year old child in September 1995.

Due to this fact, the government of Okinawa is calling for a reduction in US forces, and the governor, Takeshi Onaga, has filed a lawsuit against the Japanese government to stop the relocation of the US Marine base to another part of the region. This adds to an on-going battle to stop the government’s decision to construct a new military base for US troops in Okinawa.

More than 2,500 people gathered on Monday and protested near the construction site of the new U.S. military base in Okinawa.

In addition to rape, Okinawa residents blame US troops for crime, disorder, noise and pollution.

Since World War II Okinawa has been a nexus of U.S. military operations in Japan and the Pacific region.