News On Japan

Okinawa Locals Protest U.S. Military Sexual Assaults

NAHA, Jul 05 (News On Japan) - A U.S. Marine was arrested on July 4 for allegedly groping a woman's breast on a staircase in Okinawa, sparking urgent protests over the lack of transparency in the handling of such incidents by local authorities.

The suspect, 22-year-old Sean Sabour, a private first class stationed at Camp Kinser, is accused of touching the chest of an unfamiliar woman in her twenties over her clothing around 8:30 a.m. in a commercial building in Naha City. Sabour denies the charges, according to police reports.

This latest incident adds to a troubling trend: since last year, five cases of sexual assault involving American soldiers have gone unreported to Okinawan authorities.

In response, a protest was held on July 4 by local residents demanding transparency and accountability. Hiroji Yamashiro, director of the "Don't Turn Okinawa Into a Battlefield Again" citizen's group, voiced the collective anger: 'We will not tolerate this injustice. What do they think of us Okinawans?'

One participant expressed sorrow and solidarity with the victims: 'The woman affected should be living a normal life, spending time with friends and family. It's heartbreaking as a fellow woman and as a mother.'

Miyuki Kamiya, another member of the same citizen's group, emphasized the emotional toll on the community: 'Okinawans are deeply hurt, angry, and sad. We urge for sincere engagement with our concerns and for our voices to be heard.'

The Okinawa Prefectural Assembly has adopted a resolution protesting to the U.S. government and a written opinion to the Japanese government, demanding apologies to the victims and the establishment of a swift information-sharing system regarding incidents involving U.S. military personnel.

Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi commented, 'Local governments must address crime prevention and residents' concerns. We are considering improvements in information-sharing practices.'

Source: ANN

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