Thousands of Okinawans Protest Alleged Rape, U.S. Troop Presence

Associated Press

Chanting "Yankee, go home," a refrain rarely heard in Japan, thousands of Okinawans took to the streets Tuesday to protest the alleged rape of a 12-year-old girl that three U.S. servicemen are suspected of committing.

But even as anger over the rape accusation focused resentment on the large U.S. military presence here, the Japanese government made it clear it wants the U.S. military to stay.

Under an agreement approved Tuesday by the Cabinet, Japan will pay $1.72 billion next year to support U.S. forces, an increase of about 2%. The deal was expected to be made formal during talks between the United States and Japan in New York today.

The rape case has generated outrage among residents of this island where nearly 30,000 U.S. troops are stationed. Tuesday's peaceful demonstration drew about 3,000 people.

"We want those men and we want the U.S. bases off our island," said Yoshiharu Arakaki, head of the Okinawa Peace Movement Center, which organized the rally.

The three suspects--Marine Pfc. Rodrico Harp, 21, of Griffin, Ga.; Pfc. Kendrick M. Ledet, 20, of Waycross, Ga., and Navy Seaman Marcus D. Gill, 22, of Woodville, Tex.--are being held at a U.S. Marine base . U.S. authorities have refused to turn them over until Japanese prosecutors issue a formal indictment.

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