Okinawa Protesters Rip US Military Crimes
Rape case sparks calls for slashing bases
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Mar 23, 2008 11:23 AM CDT
A student holds a banner during a rally against an alleged rape in February of a 14-year-old girl by an American serviceman in Okinawa islands, Japan, Sunday, March 23, 2008.    (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye)
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(Newser) – Thousands poured into the streets of Okinawa today to protest crimes by US servicemen and to demand a smaller American military presence on the Japanese island, Reuters reports. "Crimes and accidents have happened over and over," said the mayor of Okinawa City. "But each time, our voices have been trampled and there has been no end to the heinous crimes."

It was one of the largest demonstrations against the US military since 1995, when three US servicemen raped a 12-year-old girl. Protesters today adopted a resolution demanding consolidation of the US bases where 50,000 servicemen work, and greater legal jurisdiction for Japanese authorities. Protests were sparked again last month when a US serviceman was accused of raping a schoolgirl. The girl has dropped charges, but a US military investigation is continuing.