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A Chronology of News Events

October 1995


OCTOBER

1st - Okinawa Governor Ota on Saturday refused to meet with the director general of the Defence Facilities Administration Bureau (DFAB), Noboru Hoshuyama, who is seeking the governor's cooperation in renewing lease contracts with U.S. forces. Hoshuyama arrived in Okinawa on Friday the persuade the governor to drop his pledge not to sign documents for the expropriation of land for U.S. bases on behalf of the national government, overriding any objections by landowners. When Hoshuyama asked to meet with Ota the prefectural government turned his request down, saying that "the governor's schedule would not allow it."

1st - The U.S. military in Okinawa has established the 'Good Neighbour Fund' to extend support to the 12-year old girl allegedly raped by three U.S. servicemen.

2nd - Protests in Okinawa over the alleged rape of a schoolgirl and calls there for a review of the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement might help South Korea's case for changing a 1954 agreement on U.S. soldiers accused of crimes, officials say. "Washington at least won't be able to say we are the only ones insisting on changes," said Choi Hyong Chan of the South Korean Foreign Ministry on Friday.

2nd - Spurned director general of the DFAB, Hoshuyama, returned home Sunday after failing to meet with Okinawa's governor Ota.

2nd - The governments of Japan and the U.S. have decided that a joint statement to be issued by Tomiichi Murayama and Bill Clinton after their scheduled summit in November will reconfirm the significance of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. Amongst the reasons behind the decision include growing demands within and outside of the ruling coalition government for a reexamination of the treaty in light of the recent outrage over the rape of an Okinawan schoolgirl, allegedly committed by three U.S. servicemen.

4th - U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Walter Mondale, offered "maximum" cooperation with Japan in finding ways to reduce the number of military bases in Okinawa, in apparent concern at potential strains on the Japan-U.S. relationship. Mondale delivered the message at a morning meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Kono. Government sources say that some parcels of land in use by the U.S. military will technically revert to Okinawan landowners at the end of this month since Okinawa's governor has refused to sign land lease documents. The government still hopes to persuade governor Ota to change his mind. Foreign Minister Kono specifically asked for the prompt return of three military installations (Naha Military Port, Yomitan Airfield, and a firing range that crosses prefectural highway No 104) and cutbacks at 23 other facilities in Okinawa. Agreement was reached on the first three facilities earlier this year, but their return has been stalled, partly because other local governments in Japan are reluctant to accept U.S. forces

4th - The Defence Facilities Administration Bureau is looking into moving military drills in Okinawa to nine different locations throughout Japan, government sources said Tuesday. The agency said that the live ammunition drill (currently taking place across prefectural highway No 104 in Okinawa) might be moved to the Yausubetsu training site in Bekkai, Hokkaido, where the Ground Self-Defence Force trains. The agency said that relocations to five new training sites could be carried out by the next fiscal year.

5th - The U.S. on Tuesday ruled out cutting the number of troops currently stationed in Japan to placate opponents enraged by the rape of an Okinawan schoolgirl, but said it had been weighing base consolidations. "It's not a question of reducing the number of American forces in Japan," said State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns. "It is a question on an ongoing basis of determining if certain facilities can be consolidated."

6th - The Japanese government plans to ask the U.S. government to sign a document that would include a provision allowing Japanese authorities to hold U.S. servicemen in Japan as suspects before they are indicted by Japanese prosecutors, government sources said. It is hoped that the provision would complement the existing Status of Forces Agreement. If such a provision was agreed upon it would not be neccesary to revise the entire agreement as is called for in the wake of the 4th September rape incident on Okinawa. A precedent for such a Japan-U.S. provision is provided by an agreement between Germany and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) that allows German authorities to keep NATO soldiers in custody before they are indicted.

6th - Japanese and U.S. officials agreed to set up a special working group to relocate U.S. military firing exercises from Okinawa Prefecture to the mainland at a meeting at the Foreign Ministry of the Japan-U.S. Joint Committee.

9th - Okinawa Governor Ota has received hundreds of letters and phone calls in support of his opposition to the practice of forcing reluctant local landowners to lease land to the U.S. military, prefectural officials said Sunday. Most of the writers and callers are urging Ota to hold out against central government pressure. In addition, some 200 teaching staff from seven universities in Okinawa plan to publish an open letter in support of the governor, and even opposition members in the prefectural assembly have praised the governor for his resolute stance. "I don't think that the central government is seriously pressing for a reduction of U.S. bases. My party recognises the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty, but as an Okinawan resident my support of Ota is only natural," said Yoshihide Isa of Shinshinto (New Frontier Party).

10th - Military records show that 169 U.S. marines and sailors in Japan have been court-martialed for rape, child molestation or other sex crimes since 1988, the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio) reported Sunday. The newspaper's computer analysis of military records showed that bases in Japan had more sexual assault trials of marines and sailors than any other location in the world. At Kadena Air Base, in Okinawa Prefecture, 23 of 5,984 Air Force personnel were charged with sexual assaults, more than all but one other Air Force installation. The records do not show how many of the cases involved assaults on Japanese women.

12th - The top commander of U.S. troops in Okinawa will order servicemen to stay away from a popular bar district in downtown Okinawa City at night in an effort to enforce discipline, according to U.S. military authorities. Starting Friday, the area, which is littered with bars, pubs and discos will be off-limits from midnight to 6 a.m., a U.S. military spokesman said.

12th - Defence Agency Director General Seishiro Eto and three other cabinet members agreed Wednesday to give priority to industrial development in Okinawa to counterbalance the prefectural economy's heavy reliance on U.S. military installations. "Now we will give priority to solving Okinawa's problems rather than tackling the various other matters that lie within the Defence Agency's responsibility," Eto told reporters. "Government assistance is neccesary to help Okinawa catch up."

12th - Prime Minister Murayama said Wednesday that he would take the sentiments of Okinawa Prefecture's residents into account when dealing with the issue of military bases there, but would also seek their understanding of the importance of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. He said, at the House of Representatives Budget Committee, that he would hold frank discussions on base reductions in Okinawa in his scheduled meeting with U.S. President Clinton in Japan in November.

13th - Prime Minister Murayama is planning to send Defence Agency Chief Seishiro Eto to Okinawa later this month to seek the cooperation of the prefectural governor and residents in continuing to lease land to the U.S. military in Okinawa, it was reported. Murayama is of the belief that the Japan-U.S. security relationship might be seriously harmed if Governor Ota continues to refuse to sign the lease contract documents. Murayama decided to send Eto because Noburu Hoshuyama, Director General of the DFAB, was rebuffed by Ota earlier this month. Eto, a higher ranking official, might have more success, Murayama believes.

14th - The trial of the three U.S. servicemen accused of abducting and raping a 12-year old Okinawan schoolgirl in September, will open on 7th November.

14th - The governors of 14 Japanese prefectures that have U.S. military bases located in them adopted a statement Friday urging Tokyo and Washington to review the Status of Forces Agreement.

16th - The government appears to be split as to how to deal with Okinawa governor Ota's refusal to sign land lease documents. Confusion within the government is said to be deepening as evidenced by deep rifts among cabinet members regarding their perception of the issue. Defence Agency Chief Seishiro Eto said that the government should strengthen measures to develop Okinawa. His cabinet colleague, Okinawa Development Agency Chief Masaaki Takagi, however, believes that unless the base issue is resolved any plans for development would likely be viewed as appeasement by the Okinawan people and merely worsen the situation. Chief Cabinet Secretary Koken Nosaka was quoted as telling the ministers not to mention what had been discussed during their cabinet meeting or even that the issue of Okinawa had ever arisen.

17th - Prime Minister Murayama said Monday that the dispute over U.S. military bases in Okinawa is the most urgent issue at the moment for his cabinet. Defence Agency Chief Eto said at the same Diet session that the government is now paying the price for its past negligence in efforts to seek return of U.S. facilities in Okinawa in bi-lateral talks with the U.S.

17th - Okinawa Governor Ota said Monday that he had asked four U.S. states, including California, for cooperation in relocating U.S. bases from Okinawa Prefecture to the U.S. While military bases in the four states have been closed, state officals have declined Ota's petition on the grounds that plans have already been made for use of former base sites.

17th - Hawaii Governor Benjamin Cayetano has offered to accept some of the U.S. forces stationed in Okinawa, Okinawa Governor Ota said Monday. Cayetano, in an open letter to Ota and the Okinawan people said, "With the end of the Cold War, the U.S. military presence in Okinawa can be reduced. Some units or bases could even be returned to the U.S. - including Hawaii - where they would be more welcome." Ota said he would discuss the proposal when Cayetano visits Okinawa in November.

18th - In an effort to break the impasse between Okinawa Governor Ota and the central government over compulsory leases on land used by U.S. forces in Okinawa, the government has decided to seek the transfer of some base functions to other parts of Japan. Sources said that the government is considering sites in Honshu, Hokkaido and Kyushu. Starting in fiscal 1996, feasability studies will be conducted to relocate the firing range that currently operates over prefectural highway No 104 in Okinawa to one of five Ground Self-Defence Force grounds, two of which are in Hokkaido, one each in Miyagi and Oita prefectures, and one straddling the Yamanashi-Shizuoka prefectural border. The government hopes to gain the cooperation of the Okinawan people over the base issue by coupling the relocation plan with two other measures. One, is an improvement in the implementation of the Status of Forces Agreement. The other, is advancing the start of public works projects to expedite the industrial development of Okinawa Prefecture.

20th - Noburu Hoshuyama, Director General of the Defence Facilities Administration Bureau, resigned Thursday after saying that Prime Minister Murayama was "stupid" in his handling of Okinawa Governor Ota's refusal to sign documents ordering landowners to renew leases on property used by U.S. forces. On Thursday morning, Hoshuyama called a press conference and said that he had "no memory of criticising the Prime Minister," and that he would not resign from his post. Chief Cabinet Secretary Nosaka commented that if Hoshuyama did not resign the government would dismiss him.

21st - Chief Cabinet Secretary Nosaka said Friday that it would be inappropriate for Defence Agency Chief Eto to visit Okinawa as scheduled next week because of the resignation of Noboru Hoshuyama, one of Eto's subordinates, who made controversial remarks about Prime Minister Murayama's handling of the Okinawa Governor over his refusal to force landowners to sign land leases allowing U.S. forces to use their land.

21st - Prime Minister Murayama is to meet with U.S. President Clinton on 20th November. Both are to reaffirm the importance of their bi-lateral security ties.

22nd - As many as 85,000 residents of Okinawa Prefecture gathered in a park at Ginowan on Saturday in a mammoth protest rally, denouncing both the recent rape of a schoolgirl, allegedly by three U.S. servicemen, and the presence of U.S. military forces in Okinawa. A resolution was adopted by the participants of the rally that denounced the rape incident, criticised the Japanese Government for its insensitivity to the situation of the Okinawan people vis-a-vis the U.S. military bases, and put forward four demands: 1) enforcement of military discipline and eradication of crimes committed by U.S. military personnel; 2) immediate apology and compensation to the victim; 3) immediate revision of the Status of Forces Agreement, and; 4) promotion of the reduction and realignment of U.S. military bases in Okinawa.

23rd - Prime Minister Murayama said on Saturday that he was determined to resolve the dispute over leasing land in Okinawa prior to his meeting with U.S. President Clinton in November. Murayama said that he was willing to visit Okinawa, if neccesary, to discuss the deadlock with Okinawa Governor Ota. The Prime Minister said that he would not just be seeking the return of some U.S. military bases, but would be looking to accomplish a comprehensive downgrade of the U.S. military presence in the prefecture. "I will make further efforts to reduce" the number of U.S. bases in Okinawa, he said.

23rd - The three ruling coalition parties seem to have different views on how to settle the issue of leased lands to the U.S. military in Okinawa. The Social Democratic Party of Japan's Secretary General, Wataru Kubo, said on Saturday, "I think it's time for the government to study specific ways to resolve the issue and negotiate with the U.S. government for base cutbacks and closures in the prefecture." Seiji Maehara, member of the New Party Sakigake, said "I want to see a downsizing of the bases, not a numbers game." The Liberal Democratic Party's approach seems a little more practical. Soichiro Ito, LDP member and chairman of a special committee set up to deal with the base issue, said "Whatever can be done should be done first." Whilst agreeing to the return of Naha Military Port and Yomitan Airfield, however, he stated that "We should not demand that other facilities be closed at this point."

26th - Japan and the U.S. formally agreed to allow the handing over of U.S. military or civilian personnel who are suspects to Japanese authorities police before indictment in cases of serious crimes. This point was agreed upon by Foreign Minister Kono and U.S. Ambassador to Japan Walter Mondale on Wednesday, and was later formalised at a Japan-U.S. Joint Committee meeting.

26th - Prime Minister Murayama will meet with Okinawa Governor Ota on 4th November in an attempt to break the current deadlock over the leasing of lands to the U.S. military. Vice Governor of Okinawa, Masanori Yoshimoto, said, however, that Ota would not be retracting his refusal to sign documents to compel Okinawa residents to renew leases on land used by U.S. forces in the prefecture. "This will not be changed anymore," he said. "We have asked the government to go ahead with legal procedures."

27th - U.S. Secretary of Defence, William Perry, said Wednesday that he opposed any cut in U.S. troops in Okinawa Prefecture. He said that U.S. forces in Japan are a key part of Washington's security plan to keep 100,000 troops in the Pacific Rim region and that they should not be reduced or reshuffled. Instead, he proposed that some bases in Okinawa could be reduced and that changes made to restrict the "intrusiveness" of U.S. military training on the island. He stressed that if troops were reduced in one area it would be necessary to increase them in another, and that "there is no advantage to be gained in doing that."

27th - Former U.S. Secretary of State, James Baker, said that the U.S. does not like to occupy ny overseas bases, including those in Okinawa, if it is not invited to do so. "We have no desire to be anywhere that we are not invited, and that of course includes Okinawa," Baker told a press conference. He stated that the U.S. was not looking for any territorial or other gains through the stationing of its forces around the world, and that the situation in Okinawa should be dealt with in this context. He went on to reaffirm the importance of the U.S. military presence for peace and stability in Southeast Asia.

27th - Infamous Japanese flag-burner, the Okinawan supermarket owner Chibana Shoichi, had his appeal against his one-year jail sentence (suspended for three years) rejected by the Naha Branch of the Fukuoka High Court on Wednesday. The defence claimed burning the flag was a symbolic act of individual expression based on the Constitution. The judge, in contrast, said that Chibana's behaviour "could not be accepted at all in a democratic society." He did, however, recognise that many Okinawans had a negative view of the Japanese flag in light of their suffering during World War II.

29th - Three U.S. servicemen went looking for prostitutes, but one was broke and persuaded the others to help him rape a 12-year-old Okinawan schoolgirl, the Japanese lawyer for one of the men told the Los Angeles Times. The lawyer claimed that niether his client, Pfc. Rodrico Harp, 21, of Griffin, Ga, nor Pfc. Kendrick M. Ledet, 20, of Waycross, Ga, raped the girl. He said that the three (along with Seaman Marcus D. Gill, 22, of Woodville, Texas) set out on the night of 4th September to find prostitutes, and Harp and Ledet had about $30 each. Gill was broke, and insisted that paying for sex was "no fun." When he proposed rape, the two marines didn't take it seriously, but did later when Gill showed them duct tape and condoms. The men spotted the girl in school uniform and Ledet pulled her inside the rented car, the Lawyer said. The three men drove to a secluded field 20 minutes away, parked the car and got out. Gill, the lawyer said, went into the car and told the struggling girl to "let me do what I want to do." Ledet and Harp each went into the car, but did not rape her when they saw how young she was, the lawyer further stated. After the incident, the three men dumped the girl in the field and drove off.

29th - The U.S. is now willing to consider moving some of the 26,000 troops in Okinawa to other parts of Japan, the Assistant Secretary of Defence for International Security affairs, Joseph Nye, stated on Friday. This statement is in direct contrast with a recent statement by Secretary of Defence Perry. Nye stressed, however, that reducing troop levels was not yet a matter under discussion and may not be necessary if other ways could be found to adjust military activities to satisfy Okinawans. "In the short run it's very difficult to make reductions in the number of troops on the island because of the way bases are structured." The eventual solution "May be a redistribution of troops, it may be a redistribution of facilities." Nye stated that the Japanese Government had not yet requested a reduction in the number of troops in the prefecture.

30th - Prime Minister Murayama expressed his support for the Japan-U.S. security alliance system, but added that he intended to look into issues surrounding the stationing of U.S. troops in Japan.

30th - Taku Yamasaki, the Liberal Democratic Party's Research Council chairman, said that Japanese and U.S. leaders should reinforce a recent agreement regarding the handling of U.S. military personnel suspected of crimes. He stated, "What is necessary now, is to guarantee that U.S. military suspects will definitely be turned over to Japanese authorities," as agreed upon.

31st - Okinawa Governor Ota reiterated to a delegation from the ruling coalition parties that he would not sign documents forcing unwilling landowners to continue renting land to the U.S. military. They had come to Okinawa in an attempt to break the current impasse. Ota said instead, that the Government should work towards reducing and consolidating the U.S. bases in a way apparent to Okinawa's residents. He stressed that such a move is particularly relevant given the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II.


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