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Demonstrators say they’re ready for Sunday rally

Date Posted: 2008-03-23

The governor of Okinawa and most senior political leaders in the prefecture aren’t planning to attend Sunday afternoon’s anti-American rally in Chatan Town, but organizers say they’re not deterred.
Some 60 groups, including worker union and teacher groups are staging the rally to protest American military incidents on Okinawa, including the alleged rape incident against a young teenage girl in early February. That case was dropped at the 14-year-old girl’s request, and the 38-year-old Marine involved released by Japanese authorities and handed over to the U.S. military, but organizers say it makes no difference.
Governor Hirokazu Nakaima says it does, and that’s why he’s not attending. “The family of the victim, and the girl herself want us to be quiet and let them alone,” said the governor in explaining why he isn’t participating. “This is a very important point.
At the same time, though, the governor says the rally’s slogan does offer something good. “I think it’s a great slogan,” says Nakaima. “That’s why I’ve been telling the Japanese and American sides many times,” referring to the slogan “The Human Rights and drastic reform of the Japan-America Security Treaty.” Overall, organizers have named their rally a “People’s protest rally against accidents and scandals by the American military.”
The groups are calling for revisions to the decades-old Status of Forces Agreement, arguing it is outmoded and obsolete. Nakaima says he agrees, at least to a degree, because “Human rights and reform are definitely needed, and I will work very hard for this.”

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