02:44 GMT25 January 2021
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    The protest of Okinawans on Sunday is the latest in more than half a century of discontent with the presence of thousands of US troops on the island.

    On Sunday 65,000 Okinawa residents held their biggest rally since 1995 to protest the presence of US bases on the island, over the high number of crimes committed by US troops stationed there.

    The southwestern Japanese island hosts most of the US military personnel in Japan, of which there are over 50,000 in total, as well as 40,000 dependents and another 5,500 American civilians employed there by the US Department of Defense.

    Sunday's rally, which has even spread to Tokyo, was organized in protest at the rape and murder of a 20-year-old local woman last month, allegedly by a US contractor and former Marine.

    On Sunday RT Russian compiled a list of the incidents which have tested Japanese commitment to the security treaty it first signed with the US in 1951, according to which the US has the right to place military bases on the archipelago in exchange for a pledge to defend Japan in the event of an attack.

    Later, in 1960, Japan and the US signed the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security, which allows US servicemen to live in Japan without registering with the Japanese authorities like other foreigners have to do.

    The Japanese authorities are only given information about the number of US soldiers at the bases, and in contrast to US forces' freedom of movement the Japanese are not allowed to enter a US base, under threat of arrest.

    Protesters carry anti-U.S. military placards during a rally in front of the National Diet building in Tokyo Sunday, June 19, 2016
    © AP Photo / Shizuo Kambayashi
    Protesters carry anti-U.S. military placards during a rally in front of the National Diet building in Tokyo Sunday, June 19, 2016
    In November 1949 a Time magazine article was the first to expose US troops' bad behavior on Okinawa, where they had been stationed since Japan was defeated in World War II. After the end of the war Okinawa remained a US protectorate until 1972, when the island reverted back to the government of Japan.

    Called "Forgotten Island," the article reported that between March and September 1949 US service members had committed 29 murders, 18 rapes, 16 robberies and 33 assaults against the island's 600,000 residents.

    In 1955 a six year old girl called Yumiko Nagayama was killed and raped by a US Marine on Okinawa. US soldier Isaac J. Hurt was tried on charges of rape and murder by a US court-martial in Okinawa. Though he was found guilty, his case was later appealed and Hurt was set free in the US.

    A quarter-century of resentment boiled over in the December 1970 Koza riot, when around 5,000 Okinawans clashed with 700 US servicemen after a car driven by a drunk US soldier hit an Okinawan man close to the Kadena Air Base. During the riot on December 20-21, approximately 60 Americans were injured, 82 people were arrested, several buildings on the air base were destroyed or heavily damaged and 80 cars were burned.

    The largest protest to date on the island was in September 1995, after three US Marines stationed at the Camp Hansen base rented a van and kidnapped and raped a 12-year-old Japanese girl. Public rage erupted, and 90,000 Japanese took to the streets to protest against US crimes in Okinawa.

    In July 2000 then US President Bill Clinton was forced to apologize to Okinawans for US soldiers’ crimes when he attended the G8 summit in Okinawa. His visit was preceded by a 25,000 strong demonstration by protestors who formed a human chain around the Kadena base in central Okinawa. Their protest was in response to the arrest of a US marine for sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl, and of an airman for an alleged hit and run incident.


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    assault, rape, murder, US Armed Forces, US Army Pacific (USARPAC), Japan, US, Okinawa
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