US asked to cut bases in Okinawa rape row



The Japanese government yesterday asked the United States to reduce its military presence on the island of Okinawa, in the latest attempt to appease growing outrage over a rape allegedly committed by three American servicemen.

Japan's Foreign Minister, Yohei Kono, made the request in a meeting with the US ambassador, Walter Mondale, but the scale of the planned reduction was immediately thrown into doubt. Okinawa contains three-quarters of the US bases in Japan, a perpetual source of resentment on an island that makes up less than 1 per cent of the country's area.

Foreign Ministry officials suggested that Okinawa's burden might be reduced to less than 70 per cent, but this was contradicted by the Defence Minister, Seishiro Eto, who said that such a scaling down would be "difficult" in the light of Japan's obligations under the Japan-US Security Treaty.

Military sites being considered for relocation elsewhere in Japan include three of the most controversial on Okinawa: a key port, first earmarked for return in 1974, a parachuting practice ground close to farms and houses, and an artillery range over a main road which has attracted complaints about unexploded shells and environmental damage.

Yesterday's announcement provoked scepticism on Okinawa, which was governed directly by America from 1945 until its reversion to Japan in 1972. "For 10 years, they've been saying they would return these sites," said a spokesman for the Okinawa prefectural government. "They could have dealt with it long ago, and right now we don't expect too much."

The island has been in uproar since the beginning of September, when a 12-year-old schoolgirl was abducted and gang-raped, allegedly by an American sailor and two Marines. Government officials, military officers and even President Bill Clinton have offered repeated expressions of regret, discipline has been tightly enforced and sales of alcohol have been restricted on base. US Marines will suspend operations for a "day of reflection" on the crime and its consequences.

But the gestures have done little to stem local anger. There have been daily demonstrations in Okinawa and Tokyo, where chants of "Yankee, Go Home!" have brought back memories of the 1960s, when opposition to the security treaty provoked riots in Tokyo. As many as 40,000 people are expected to attend a rally on 21 October. Yesterday the last of Okinawa's 53 municipal assemblies unanimously adopted a resolution calling for a review of the bilateral Status of Forces Agreement, which allowed the three suspects to remain in US custody until their indictment by Japanese prosecutors last Friday.

Last week the governor of Okinawa, Masahide Ota, refused to sign documents allowing the US military to commandeer land occupied by military sites.

people And here is why...
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
voicesBy the man who has
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson star in The Twilight Saga but will not be starring in the new Facebook mini-movies
tvKristen Stewart and Stephenie Meyer will choose female directrs
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Arts and Entertainment
Twerking girls: Miley Cyrus's video for 'Wrecking Ball'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

QA/BA - Agile

£400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are currently seekin...

PPA Supply Teachers

£121 - £142 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Early Years, KS1 & 2 Prima...

Primary Supply Teacher

£121 - £142 per annum: Randstad Education Luton: Early Years, KS1 & 2 Prim...

Primary Supply Teacher

£121 - £142 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Primary supply teacher Hertford...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?