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Stray bullet incident still bothering Kin residents

Date Posted: 2009-02-26

The case of the stray bullet that struck a vehicle license plate in Kin Town last December continues to concern local residents, despite the fact the U.S. military says the bullet didn’t come from its nearby training range.

“We know the car license plate was broken and damaged,” Okinawa Prefecture Police told a Prefecture Assembly members business meeting, “but it is difficult to accept this as a scandal, because we can’t see the point or purpose of somebody breaking it.” Police say that “according to the law, property damage should have been done deliberately, but in this case it looks like an error.”

The Okinawa Prefecture Police spokesman says “we are still asking the American military to support the investigation, but didn’t get final answers from their investigation yet.” Kin Town’s Igei area residents aren’t happy with the answers they’re receiving, telling assembly members “we don’t want to live scared.” They called a meeting one week ago to protest the stray bullet incident, demanding clear answers about the bullet’s source. The protesters demanded drastic reforms to the military agreements between Japan and the U.S.

“The Americans can’t stop the training even when we request it,” local area president Masafumi Ikehara says. “We can’t even do our own investigation inside the base because of the agreement. That’s why it has to be reformed.” Ikehara says “this is not only our problem” but one to be addressed by the central government, which “also has to think more seriously about this matter.”

“I wonder how deeply the Prefecture Police did the investigation,” one committee member asked. “We want to know more in detail about the investigation.” A resident working in her yard at the time the bullet struck the automobile license plate asked officials “Can’t you protect the safety of our lives? Prefecture and police don’t protect us.” The woman also asked assembly members “How can we get damage compensation? If police stop investigating, who’s going to explain to the Americans?”

“Please give us some action,” the woman pleaded with the members. Igei residents are planning a general meeting March 1st, again to denounce the lack of action on answers to the stray bullet incident.

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