As many as 2,500 people gathered in protest on Monday near the construction site of a new U.S. military base in the Japanese prefecture of Okinawa after allegations were made that a U.S. Navy sailor had raped a Japanese tourist there.
“Incidents and accidents never cease to exist as long as there are bases here,” Susumu Inamine, mayor of the city of Nago, where the site is located, said, according to Japanese newspaper the Mainichi. “If the U.S. military were a good neighbor, this kind of incident wouldn’t happen. How long do we have to keep holding these gatherings?”
The alleged rape is the latest in a string of controversies involving the sexual misconduct of U.S. servicemen in Okinawa, which has been a nexus of U.S. military operations in Japan and the Pacific region since World War II. The sailor in question was arrested earlier in March by Japanese police and accused of raping a tourist he found asleep in a Nago hotel hallway.
The sailor was stationed at Camp Schwab, which hosts the site of the new air station where Monday’s protest occurred. Local authorities are presently investigating the case.