A nonpartisan group of Okinawa Prefectural Assembly members on Friday lodged a protest with the Japanese and U.S. governments over the alleged rape and murder of a Japanese woman in April by a civilian U.S. employee of Kadena Air Base.
The protest was lodged in the form of a resolution addressed to U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy and a written statement to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and relevant Cabinet ministers.
As part of the protest, the group demanded the withdrawal of the U.S. Marines from Okinawa — the strongest expression yet of public anger over the former marine’s alleged involvement in the slaying.
It also called for scrapping the unpopular Japan-U.S. plan to relocate U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from crowded Ginowan to the less populated Henoko area of Nago.
The group also sought a sweeping review of the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement that governs the handling of U.S. military base personnel in Japan.
Kenneth Franklin Shinzato, 32, has been arrested and charged with dumping the body of the 20-year-old woman. Okinawa police served him another warrant Thursday for her rape and murder, which he reportedly admitted to.
The incident reignited public outrage in Okinawa, which hosts the bulk of U.S. military facilities in Japan, and led to the U.S. military in Okinawa to impose a ban on alcohol and temporary restrictions on off-base activity.
The Okinawa Prefectural Assembly passed the resolution and written statement on May 26, with the Japanese Communist Party, Social Democratic Party and Komeito supporting it.
Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, which is an opposition party in the Okinawa assembly, was absent when the documents were put to a vote, but joined the nonpartisan group this time, saying it could back the nature of the protest.
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