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With renewed fury, Japanese protest U.S. military presence in Okinawa

Okinawans insist they're not anti-American, but many are against American bases, and their grievances date back to the end of World War II
Okinawans insist they're not anti-American, b... 03:27

The U.S. military in Japan faces new protests after an American Marine veteran is accused of murdering a young Japanese woman. Tens of thousands of Japanese rallied Sunday on the island of Okinawa, calling for the removal or reduction of the military bases there.

Nearly three-quarters of all American military facilities in Japan are located on Okinawa, a strategically important island.

Okinawans insist they're not anti-American, but many are against American bases, reports CBS News correspondent Adriana Diaz. Their grievances date back to the end of World War II when the U.S. military occupation started here.

As seen in a local newspaper, they're keeping count of crimes connected to the U.S. military.

Their signs said: "Our anger has reached its limit" and "Marines out."

They made sure nothing was lost in translation with a sign that said "Okinawan lives matter."

"We have been enduring cruel treatment for 70 years," one protester said.

The demands are decades old, but the recent rape and murder of 20-year-old woman has renewed fury.

"What happened to her could have happened to me," one crying student activist said.

Former Marine Kenneth Shinzato, a civilian base worker, is a prime suspect and is awaiting charges. He allegedly disposed of the victim's body in a park.

"We're all equally horrified. I think for me when I heard about it, it was a gut punch," Lt. Gen. Lawrence Nicholson said.

Nicholson is the top U.S. military official on the island. After the death, he instituted a 30-day mourning period banning off-base drinking and celebrations. Some troops have also received additional training.

To emphasize unity, the bases here are distributing an outreach video.

"If I may, all the outreach in the world isn't going to bring back the life of this woman who was killed or console her family," Diaz said.

"We are responsible. I am responsible,"Nicholson said. "All I can tell you is we're doing everything we can to ensure there's not another event. We have 50,000 Americans here every day, working and well-representing our nation."

Restaurant owner Takafumi Kudo agrees. He said U.S. troops protect the island from a land-hungry China and provide jobs.

"I understand why Okinawans are so enraged," Kudo said. "But the Japanese commit these crimes, too, so it's not fair to exaggerate the actions of one ex-Marine."

But Okinawa police say service members are responsible for nearly 6,000 criminal incidents since Okinawa was returned to Japan in 1972.

Suzuyo Takazato works with rape victims.

"We spoke to a general in the military who said they're doing everything they can," Diaz said to Takazato.

"I'm sorry... If the troops really understand and listen and are disciplined, how come this kind of crimes happening constantly?" Takazato responded.

Also this year, a U.S. sailor was arrested for rape and another for drunk driving after injuring two people.

To alleviate the number of troops here, there's been a plan in place since 2006 to move 8,000 Marines off the island, but it's been slow moving. More than half are still here.

Out of respect, Fourth of July fireworks here have been canceled.

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