May 30, 2019 Ryukyu Shimpo
The “Kadena Air Base Tri-City Intercommunication Committee,” which is comprised of representative from Okinawa City, Kadena, and Chatan and chaired by Kadena mayor Hiroshi Toyama, visited Okinawa Defense Bureau (ODB) chief Toshinori Tanaka May 29 to protest repeated incidents involving U.S. airmen including drunk driving and other incidents. Only the opening of the meeting was made public. Afterwards, Mayor Toyama commented to the press that the previous day he had grown fed up with the continued scandals involving U.S. airmen stationed at Kadena Air Base which had “gone way too far,” and so he went to the head of the ODB to, “demand the U.S. military establish some discipline and put a thorough effort into ensuring another incident does not occur.”
Originally, the meeting was formed to protest parachute training that had taken place at Kadena on May 21, but as the scandals continued to pile up, the committee quickly added points of protest such as the breaking of road laws by U.S. airmen among others.
OBB chief Tanaka recognized, “Crimes including drunk driving committed by U.S. airmen are repeated occurrences,” and said that he demanded the U.S. military take steps to prevent reoccurrence and to thoroughly educate soldiers. When asked about the May 26 traffic accident involving a vehicle from the air base that resulted in a death, and specifically about financial compensation for the victim’s family, Tanaka stated his stance as, “As a general rule, any incident outside of official business should be handled between the parties involved.” However, he commented that there are many systems in place for this and that he “wants to respond [as the Japanese government] in a suitable fashion.”
(English translation by T&CT and Sam Grieb)