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Incidents Renew Protests against Military

Date Posted: 2001-01-19

A 22-year old Marine stationed at Camp Hansen was arrested last week for allegedly lifting the skirt of a 16-year old high school girl and snapping a picture of her underpants with a digital camera. The girlís friends reportedly held the Marine until the police arrived and arrested him.

Taking pictures with candid cameras is a rather common occurrence in Japanís big cities, and several TV programs show how plainclothes policemen catch the culprits, but this is the first time that an American serviceman has been implicated in such an incident.

Another incident took place in Kunigami Village Saturday when a sailor and a civilian working for the U.S. military, both drunk, got into a fight in a bar. The barís proprietor tried to separate the two and told them to leave. In the ensuing melee she was slightly hurt. She then called the police who took the two into custody. While at the police station, the two reportedly resumed their fight and one of them broke a table. Both are charged with causing public disturbance, and one with vandalism because of the broken table.

The bar proprietor said afterwards that usually her American customers are very well behaved and fights or other disturbances are very rare.

Both incidents caused big headlines and much coverage in the local news media. The incidents also prompted Kin and Nago assemblies to send letters of protest to U.S. military authorities. Okinawa Governor Keiichi Inamine said that he would urge for more cuts in the U.S. military presence in the prefecture.

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