Okinawa killing: US bases hold 30-day mourning

Activists, including some covered in mock shrouds, taking part in a demonstration outside Union Station in Washington, DC, last Thursday to protest against the US military presence in Okinawa and the killing of a 20-year-old Japanese woman.
Activists, including some covered in mock shrouds, taking part in a demonstration outside Union Station in Washington, DC, last Thursday to protest against the US military presence in Okinawa and the killing of a 20-year-old Japanese woman.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

TOKYO • The United States military yesterday announced a 30-day period of mourning at its bases on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa, where the killing of a woman has reignited resentment of the heavy US military presence in the region.

A 32-year-old American civilian working at a US military base in Okinawa was arrested this month for dumping the body of the 20-year-old Japanese woman.

The attack stoked anger in Japan, prompting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to protest about the killing dur- ing talks with US President Barack Obama ahead of the Group of Seven summit in Japan.

Many associate the bases with crime. The rape of a Japanese schoolgirl by US military personnel in 1995 sparked huge anti-base demonstrations.

A senior US military official told reporters that all festivals, celebrations and music concerts at US military bases would be postponed during the 30-day period, which began on Friday.

Media said alcohol consumption outside bases would be prohibited among military personnel and their families along with civilians employed by the military, while they would also be required to observe a midnight curfew.

The US military was not immediately available to comment on the details of the restrictions.

"There are no words in the English language that can adequately convey our level of shock, pain and grief at the loss of life of this innocent victim," said Lieutenant-General Lawrence Nicholson, Commander of the US Marine Forces in Japan. "We are all shocked, we are all stunned, we are all angry."

Okinawa, the site of a brutal World War II battle, hosts 50,000 American nationals, and many residents resent what they see as an unfair burden.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 29, 2016, with the headline 'Okinawa killing: US bases hold 30-day mourning'. Print Edition | Subscribe