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Okinawans shaking heads at new incidents involving U.S. Marines

Date Posted: 2008-02-19

Only hours after receiving mandatory behavior and discipline training, Marines have been arrested in two separate incidents.
A 21-year-old Marine corporal was taken into custody about 4:20 a.m. in Nago City and charged with breaking and entering a woman’s home. Police say Sean Jake, a Marine stationed at Camp Schwab, was drunk as he broke into a residence in the Henoko area early this morning. The woman, who says she’d never met Jake before, found him asleep on the couch in her living room.
She called police, and then a Henoko area official. Police say they’re not sure how the Marine got into the house, because there were no windows broken. Jake, police say, caused no damage in the house. The Marine has told police “Did I sleep on the sofa? I don’t remember anything at all.”
Yasumasa Oshiro, who represents Nago City’s Henoko area, was furious as he demanded an explanation on how the incident could have happened. “Wasn’t it just a couple days ago the military brass swore they would thoroughly educate the troops? It is really disgusting.” Oshiro asks “What are the Marines doing?” and wonders if “we really should say they all go away from Okinawa. It’s because of the American bases here, and that’s why these kinds of things are happening so often.”
The government’s Chief Cabinet Secretary in Tokyo wasted no time in lambasting the breaking and entering incident. Nobutaka Machimura said American “discipline appears to be lax,” and argued “It’s an incident that occurred amid cries for more strict enforcement of discipline. We can only conclude the Americans are slack.” The Secretary told a morning news conference the Americans aren’t doing what they promised in the wake of the February 10th alleged rape of a 14-year-old girl in Okinawa City, and complains “We must strongly call on the U.S. to reflect on this. It is deplorable, and I am angered by it,” Machimura added.
Tempers were already strained Sunday as word reached the public a U.S. Marine had been arrested for drunk driving. Okinawa City Police apprehended a 22-year-old Marine stationed at Camp Foster after a police patrol watched a car weaving along a Chuo area street about 7:15 a.m. Corporal Tony Alexander Garcia was arrested on the scene.
The Nago City mayor was vocal this morning in asking “Can’t they (the Americans) learn anything?” Yoshikazu Shimabukuro says “all Okinawan people are very sensitive about the American military because of last week’s incident.” He says the rash of incidents is giving people a very different impression of Americans, and notes most girls and women who used to consider Americans as “just foreigners” are now viewing “Americans as scary people.”
A local attorney is voicing concerns the current military discipline system is not working. Tsutomu Arakaki says “not putting restrictions on them, and not placing places off limits is simply not working at all.” He thinks the Marine Corps has worked itself into a dangerous situation, although noting not all Marines are bad individuals.

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