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A Chronology of News Events

January-September 1995


JANUARY

8th - Japan and the U.S. are considering redefining their security relationship and are expected to adopt a joint resolution when the two leaders meet at the APEC summit in Osaka in November, 1995.

13th - Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama and U.S. President Bill Clinton, at their summit meeting in Washington, discuss (amongst other things) Japan's financial contribution towards the maintenance of U.S. forces in Japan and the Okinawa base issue. Clinton expressed his appreciation for the amount of money Japan currently contributes. As for Okinawa, Clinton told Murayama that "the existence of U.S. military bases in Japan is a delicate issue," but that he has instructed the U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Walter Mondale, to "take steps to resolve the issue." Clinton specifically instructed Mondale to look into a resolution to the long-running impasse over the return of Naha Military Port, along with three other Okinawan demands: the cessation of parachute drills at the Yomitan airfield; the return of Yomitan airfield to Japan, and; the cessation of live-shell artillery drills near Okinawan prefectural highway No 104.

14th - A Taiwanese patrol boat is spotted in Japanese waters close to the island of Yonaguni, Okinawa Prefecture. The Taiwan Foreign Ministry refuses to respond to an official letter from the Japanese Government regarding the incident on the grounds that Okinawa, in Taiwan's eyes, is not part of Japan. Taiwan rejects America's return of the islands to Japan in 1972.

19th - The Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. John Shalikashvili, suggests that Washington intends to resolve the issue of scaling back U.S. armed forces in Okinawa on the basis that alternative sites are provided by the Japanese Government. He told a news conference in Tokyo that his hope was that the Okinawa issue could be resolved "as quickly as possible." Whilst the U.S. was happy to move on the Okinawa issue, he said, Washington wants to leave the overall troop presence in Japan "as it is."


FEBRUARY

7th - U.S. President Clinton sends his $1.61 trillion budget for fiscal year 1996 to the Congress. The budget includes drastic cuts in defence expenditure. The proposed defence budget of $257.8 million recorded a 5.3% drop on the fiscal '95 figure. The budget was intended to trim U.S. military strength, based on the fundamental review drafted in 1993 that reflects world conditions after the end of the Cold War. It is envisaged that the total number of U.S. military personnel will be reduced to 1.48 million (down by 40,000) in 1996. The number of military personnel in Asia will be kept at approximately 100,000, which is the same as the number of U.S. troops in Europe.

16th Japanese Defence Agency Director General, Tokuichiro Tamazawa, is to set out the agency's plans for the resolution of the Okinawa base issue later this week. He will visit Okinawa on the weekend to discuss the issue with Governor Ota Masahide. Okinawan requests are threefold: 1) the return of Naha Military Port; 2) the return of Yomitan Auxilliary Airport (and a cessation to the parachute drills carried out there), and; 3) a halt the live-shell drills over prefectural highway No 104. Tamazawa will suggest alternative sites for the port and airport so that agreement can be reached when he visits the U.S. in May (hopefully to coincide with the 23rd anniversary of Okinawa's Reversion to Japan). Tamazawa can't promise a cessation of live-shell drills, but he will seek to reduce then in number. The Naha Military Port issue was agreed upon in 1974, but as yet no alternative sites have been decided upon.

19th - Tamazawa's plans are confirmed. He intends to seek the return of Naha Military Port and Yomitan Airfield when he visits the U.S. in May. With regard to the plans for Naha Military Port, Governor Ota tells Tamazawa, "The prefecture will respond to the proposal from a comprehensive point of view, considering the wishes of municipal governments and development plans for the area." Tamazawa asked Ota to drum up support in the prefecture for the Agency's plans. Tamazawa suggested that the U.S. has already agreed in principle to the relocation of the Yomitan Airfield to an area in the northern part of Okinawa Island.

26th - U.S. forces in Okinawa have asked the Japanese Defence Agency to build barracks and ammunition depots at manoeuvre grounds they are to use in exchange for lost exercise ground in Okinawa. The Agency was said to be unhappy about the request. An anonymous official said that, "Although there is a limit to Japan's share of operating costs for U.S. troops, the U.S. forces keep thrusting new demands at us." The Defence Agency announced that it has offered the U.S. forces the choice of nine exercise grounds belonging to the Japanese Self Defence Forces (JSDF) outside of Okinawa in return for the U.S. ceasing live-shell drills over highway No 104. The U.S. agreed in principle, as long as the Defence Agency agreed to the barrack and ammunition depot construction requests.

28th - U.S. Department of Defence releases its study U.S. Security Strategy for the East Asia-Pacifc Region . This confirms the U.S's resolve to maintain a force of 100,000 troops in the region (principally in Okinawa, mainland Japan, and South Korea). Japan's support for the U.S. is praised, with the report suggesting that it is in fact cheaper for the U.S. to maintain its forces in Japan than in the U.S. because of Japan's high level of financial support.


MARCH

5th - According to a Prime Minister's Office survey conducted in Okinawa, local residents are increasingly accepting the U.S. military presence. The office said its survey, conducted last November, showed that 31% of respondents reluctantly accepted the bases as neccesary for Japan's security, up 7.4% from the previous poll taken in 1989. It said 7.8% expressed positive support. In contrast, opposition to the bases decreased by 5.7% to 29.4%, while 24.9% believed that the bases were unneccesary. Also, 47.1% of respondents 'passively' accepted the presence of the JSDF in Okinawa (2,000 residents over the age of 20 were surveyed, with a response rate of 70.8%).


APRIL

26th - The Japanese Supreme Court rejected the claim of a former landowner to a large tract of land inside a U.S. military base in Okinawa. Supporting lower court rulings, the appeal of Gitoku Arakaki and another plaintiff (representing 123 former landowners) was turned down. The plaintiffs said they were forced to relinquish their land (currently in Kadena Airbase) to the Japanese Imperial Army during the war for no compensation.


MAY

2nd - Defence Agency Chief Tamazawa left Japan Monday for talks in the U.S. with Defence Secretary William Perry on security issues. Tamazawa and Perry will (along with issues surrounding North Korea) discuss a redefinition of the role of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.

4th - Defence Agency Chief Tamazawa rejected a request by the U.S. Defence Secretary that Japan increase its share of the cost of supporting U.S. forces stationed in Japan. He cited budgetary contraints. As for bases in Okinawa, agreement in principle has been reached on the return of Naha Military Port and Yomitan Airfield. The locations of the alternative sites were not released, but it is believed that reclaimed land in Urasoe will be the new site of the port, and that the airfield will be moved to within Camp Hansen in the northern part of Okinawa.

12th - The U.S. agreed Thursday to return Naha Military Port and Yomitan Airfield in Okinawa to Japan, the Defence Facilities Administration Bureau reported. Japan will set up a wharf at Urasoe to be exclusively used by U.S. forces as an alternative site. Parachute drills will be moved to Camp Hansen in Ginoza (northern Okinawa), clearing the way for a return of the airfield to the local authorities.

12th - A woman was found dead in front of her home in Ginowan, Okinawa. She had been stabbed in the face. A witness saw three men, apparently foreigners, driving away from the scene of the crime. Local police are asking the U.S. military for its help in the investigation.

16th - 17,000 Okinawan residents turned out in the rain for a demonstration at Futenma Airfield in Ginowan. The demonstrators formed a 14 kilometre 'human wall' around the base. The demonstration was in protest at the U.S. military presence in Okinawa. 75% of all U.S. bases in Japan are located in Okinawa, which constitutes only 0.6% of Japan's total land area.

25th - The Imperial Household Agency announced that the Emperor and Empress will visit Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Okinawa prefectures this summer to mourn those who died during WWII. Agency officials said that a visit to Okinawa is a more delicate matter (than the visits to Hiroshima and Nagasaki), calling for planning that takes account the sentiments of Okinawan residents.


JUNE

2nd - The mayors of Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Naha will meet to discuss peace and war in Naha at a 24th June event to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the war. Named the 'Naha, Hiroshima, Nagasaki Peace Triangle Summit,' the event will adopt a peace declaration and call for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

17th - Halifax, Canada. Japanese Prime Minister Murayama and U.S. President Clinton dismissed the notion that the current auto trade dispute between the countries would erode the Japan-U.S. security relationship. President Clinto said that cooperation between Japan, the U.S. and South Korea is extremely important in relation to lingering fears regarding North Korea's nuclear programme. Murayama said that the close relationship between the two countries would help solve the reversion and relocation of some U.S. bases in Okinawa. Murayama stated, "Thanks to the President's cooperation, the issue of U.S. military bases in Okinawa has seen important progress."

24th - Marking the 50th anniversary of the end of WWII, about 6,000 people, including families of victims of the Battle of Okinawa in 1945 and a group of U.S. war veterans, pledged eternal peace at a ceremony held in Itoman, Okinawa Prefecture, in memory of more than 200,000 people who died in the battle.

25th - About 300 Japanese and American war veterans attended a ceremony Saturday commemorating victims of one of the toughest battles fought in Okinawa over a hill once nicknamed by U.S. forces as "Sugar Loaf." The city of Naha has requested that U.S. veterans change an inscription on the copper plate cenotaph to be placed on the hill because it believes the words on the monument indicate an admiration of the war.


JULY

5th - The Emperor and Empress are to make a one-day visit to Okinawa on 2nd August, in memory of the war dead. The arrangements for the trip took time because of the negative attitude of the Okinawan people towards the Imperial family. Okinawa was sacrificed during the Pacific War to prevent a full-scale invasion of the Japanese main islands. The Japanese Imperial Army, with the Emperor at its head, often treated the Okinawan people with as much contempt as they did the enemy during the Battle for Okinawa.


AUGUST

2nd - On an official visit to Okinawa to mark the 50th anniversary of the war's end, only the second visit of an Emperor to the prefecture since the end of the war, the Emperor stated, "I pray for the victims of war, keeping in mind that their death laid the foundation for peace, and I hope the peace will never be infringed."

10th - In Murayama's cabinet reshuffle Masaaki Takagi is made the Director General of the Okinawa Development Agency and Hokkaido Development Agency. The two prefectures, at the extremes both north and south of Japan, are the only areas felt by the government to be in need of specific development agencies. The Okinawa Development Agency has been in existence since 1971 (created in anticipation of the Reversion of the islands in 1972), and has overseen the implementation of three Promotion and Development plans for Okinawa. Seishiro Eto is made the new Defence Agency Secretary.

12th - In a Yomiuri Shimbun opinion poll survey 61% of respondents said that the Japan-U.S. Security treaty was "working well," down 14% from a 1988 survey and down 5% from a survey carried out in 1994.

12th - New Defence Agency Secretary Seishiro Eto is scheduled to meet with U.S. Secretary of Defence Perry in Hawaii in September.

15th - Okinawa Governor, Ota Masahide, has protested China's refusal to halt nuclear testing and France's planned resumption of nuclear testing. Letters of protest were sent to both countries' embassies in Tokyo.

25th - Japanese F-4 fighter planes were forced to make emergency flights to the Senkaku Islands last week after two planes, believed to be Chinese, flew close to the islands in apparent violation of Japanese airspace. An Air SDF radar station on the Miyako Island picked up two planes. The planes were thought to be Sukhoi 27's of the Chiinese Air Force, but this was not confirmed. China had been conducting military manoeuvres in the waters north of Taiwan since 5th August. An accord between Japan and China over the sovereignty of the Senkaku's was signed in 1978. China rejected Japan's claims of sovereignty over the islands, as well as Japan's sovereignty over the Ryukyu Islands (including Okinawa).

31st - Japan will increase its share of maintaining U.S. military bases in the country by more than 3 billion yen in fiscal 1996. Defence Agency Chief Eto will propose this boost in host nation support (HNS) to U.S. Defence Secretary William Perry at their scheduled meeting in Hawaii on 1st September. Japan had rejected an increase in HNS when asked by the U.S. earlier in the year. Eto will ask, however, that the U.S. try to reduce the cost of their base operations.


SEPTEMBER

4th - A 12-year old Okinawan schoolgirl is abducted and raped, allegedly by three U.S. servicemen. The girl was walking back to her home in northern Okinawa after shopping when two U.S. marines and a sailor blocked her way, police said. They allegedly muzzled and blindfolded her with adhesive tape and took her to a nearby beach where they raped and beat her.

5th - Japan and the U.S. are to issue a statement stressing the importance of their bi-lateral security ties when the two leaders, Tomiichi Murayama and Bill Clinton, meet at their scheduled summit on 20th November. Foreign and Defence department personnel from both countries will hold working-level meetings during October to prepare for the summit. The joint statement would incorporate three major issues: the need to promote Japan's contributions to U.N. peacekeeping organisations and humanitarian aid, as well as the importance of U.S. support for Japan gaining a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council; the need for bi-lateral security agreement on establishing a council to discuss strengthening security in northeast Asia; and the need for agreement over U.S. bases in Okinawa Prefecture, revision of the special law on host nation support and conclusion of agreements on military acquisition and cross-servicing contracts.

8th - Japan has agreed with the U.S. to increase its contribution to the cost of supporting U.S. forces stationed in Japan, including paying for some 800 more Japanese base workers. Under a new agreement Japan will also pay transportation expenses in the event that military exercise sites are relocated due to reasons on the Japanese side. Japan is expected to increase its contributions to the U.S. forces by some 6 billion yen in fiscal year 1996. Excluding basic costs for land and facilities, Japan's total contributions are projected to hit 180 billion yen in fiscal 2000, when the new agreement is set to expire.

14th - U.S. Defence Secretary William Perry hits out at domestic criticism regarding the American military presence in Asia. Our presence, he said, "helped foster the phenomenal economic growth (in the region) by providing a foundation of peace and stability." He reiterated that the U.S. is committed to maintaining 100,000 troops in East Asia.

16th - The Okinawa Prefectural Government has called for a review of the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) after U.S. soldiers allegedly assaulted a primary school girl on 4th September. SOFA limits the power of the local police to investigate cases involving U.S. military personnel. Okinawa Prefecture has also asked the Japanese Foreign Ministry to lodge a protest about the alleged assault with the U.S. Government. The prefecture will launch its own protest. Resolutions of protest have been passed by municipal and town assemblies in Okinawa amid growing resentment against the U.S. forces stationed there.

20th - Okinawa Governor Ota Masahide called on Japanese and U.S. officials to revise the Status of Forces Agreement so that the three soldiers accused of raping a primary school girl can be handed over to the local police. Ota made the request at a meeting with Foreign Secretary Yohei Kono. He also passed on a written request to Prime Minister Murayama. Under the current agreement, U.S. military authorities may detain U.S. soldiers suspected of involvement in crimes until such time as they are indicted by Japanese authorities. During the meeting Ota said that the agreement was "strange" for a sovereign nation like Japan and warned that anti-U.S. sentiment in Okinawa was increasing. Ota renewed calls for the government to act on the disparity between the number of U.S. bases in Okinawa and the Japanese mainland. 75% of all U.S. bases are located in Okinawa. "I understand the government's statements about the importance of the Security Treaty, but why should all the burden of this fall on small Okinawa?" he said. U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Walter Mondale, expressed "sincere apologies for the suffering this crime has brought to the child, her family and the people of Okinawa Prefecture."

21st - The Social Democratic Party of Japan (SDPJ) decided to push the government to seek a review of the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement. It also asked other members of the coalition government, the Liberal Democratic Party and New Party Sakigake, to consider the future of the agreement. Prime Minister Murayama (and head of the SDPJ) said that he did not favour an immediate review of the agreement. U.S. military officials in Okinawa have confirmed that they have been receiving threats of violence against Americans in the wake of the rape incident. There has been at least one bomb threat. Lt. Tania Dutko, a spokeswoman for Kadena Air Base, said, "We have received threats because of recent misconduct, and the alleged rape would be a part of that."

22nd - Japan and the U.S. reject a quick review of the Status of Forces Agreement, despite public anger over the fact that three U.S. servicemen suspected of raping a primary school girl have not yet been handed over to the Japanese authorities. The U.S. military authorities have been criticised for only allowing access to the three suspects between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on weekdays. During his meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Kono U.S. Ambassador to Japan Mondale assured that the three suspects would be made available to Japanese authorities whenever requested.

23rd - In a radio interview with Larry King, U.S. President Clinton expressed regret for the alleged rape of an Okinawan schoolgirl. Clinton said that the U.S. does not condone any misconduct or abuse of the Japanese people and that "anybody who violates the law should be treated accordingly." He suggested an openness to review the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement, saying, "If the Japanese think there's any kind of procedures we ought to take to improve things, we obviously are open to that."

24th - The Okinawa Prefectural Assembly has agreed to organise a protest rally of 30,000 to 50,000 people to denounce the abduction and rape of a local schoolgirl.

24th - Okinawan Prefectural Police on Friday sent papers charging three U.S. servicemen with the rape resulting in injuries of a primary school girl, and other charges, to the Naha District Public Prosecutors Office. The three are Navy Seaman Marcus Gill, 22, Marine Pfc. Kenneth Ledet, 20, and Pfc. Rodorico Harp, 21. They are accused of tying the girl's hands and feet, covering her eyes and mouth with adhesive tape, and raping her in a rented car while driving for about 1.5 kilometres.

26th - Prime Minister Murayama will apparently touch on the Okinawa rape incident and the Status of Forces Agreement in a policy speech to be made at the extraordinary Diet session to be convened on Friday, government sources say.

26th - Okinawa Governor Ota again called for a review of the Status of Forces Agreement as a whole, claiming that the existence of many U.S. bases in Okinawa has a negative effect on the everyday lives of people. The prefecture has set up a research panel to investigate the effects bases have on people.

27th - Japan confirms that it will increase its host nation support for U.S. troops stationed in Japan by more than 3 billion yen per year for the next five years. The new agreement will be signed at the forthcoming "Two-plus-Two" talks to be held by top foreign and defence officials of both countries. The agreement requires that Japan shoulder the costs incurred if Japanese officials request a change in training venues, such as the live-shell firing exercises currently conducted over highway No 104 in Okinawa Prefecture.

28th - A top U.S. Marine Corps general in Okinawa has banned the sale of alcohol at convenience-type stores on marine bases in Okinawa after 9 p.m. Maj. Gen. Wayne rollings, commander of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force, met with senior officers and enlisted men to "reiterate the need for tight discipline and increased supervision," officials said. Rollings also ordered a list of personnel "who had been involved in incidents of misbehavior."

28th - U.S. Defence Department figures illustrate that U.S. servicemen abroad are committing fewer violent crimes than just a few years ago. The number of violent crimes, such as murder, rape and manslaughter, that U.S. military personnel outside of the U.S. were accused of fell by 64%, from 223 cases in 1989 to 80 in 1994. The population of U.S. personnel abroad fell by 43%, from 510,000 to 287,000. Incidence of rape cases fell from 134 in 1989, to 45 in 1994. In Japan alone, where approximately 10% fewer U.S. troops reside than six years ago, the number of crime cases has fallen by 52%. Seven rape cases involving U.S. personnel in Japan were reported in 1989, and six in 1994. Over the six year period, 28 cases of rape were tried, and 11 servicemen convicted.

29th - Persistent demands from both ruling coalition and opposition party members for a revision of the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement has officials of Japan's Foreign Ministry and Defence Agency concerned. These officials worry that the recent rape case in Okinawa, allegedly involving U.S. servicemen, may develop into a demand for revision of the Security Treaty between the two countries. In the case of U.S. forces in Germany, it has been pointed out, suspects may be delivered to the local police prior to actual prosecution. This is not yet the case in Japan.

29th - Okinawa Governor Ota told the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly Thursday that he will not cooperate with the central government in forcing landowners to renew contracts allowing their land to be used by U.S. forces. Based on the law on land expropriation for U.S. forces, the central government is preparing to have some 2,900 Okinawan landowners renew their contracts with it before the expiration of the contracts in March of 1996 and in May, 1997. The landowners, who possess 387,000 square metres of land inside 13 U.S. facilities, have refused to renew their contracts. Ota's stance has been prompted by a growing public outcry in Okinawa over the recent rape incident and the overall American military presence in the island.

30th - The Naha District Public Prosecutors Office on Friday officially indicted three U.S. servicemen stationed in Okinawa on charges of abducting and raping a 12-year old girl. The three men were turned over to Japanese authorities and put in the Naha Detention house at 11:20 a.m. on Friday. It took only eight days, an unprecedented short time for a case involving U.S. military personnel, for the suspects to be formally charged.

30th - U.S. Marines on Okinawa will suspend military training on 4th October and take time to reflect on the alleged rape incident, according to their command in Okinawa. The day will be used to "reflect on and renew awareness of their obligations to the local community."

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