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Anti-US base activists push for Okinawa protester’s release

Activists opposing the US military presence on the Japanese island of Okinawa are protesting the ongoing detention of one anti-US base activist over a series of minor offenses.

Hiroji Yamashiro, 64, had been leading protests against the construction of a new US marine corps installation, before he was arrested on October 17 last year. The island already boasts 32 such facilities.

Yamashiro and his supporters have claimed he is being detained for politically-motivated reasons and that the Japanese government is trying to silence him.

He is being held on suspicion of cutting a wire fence around a Marine Corps helipad construction site, interfering with a public officer’s duties, causing bodily harm, and of obstructing the construction of a Marine Corps air station.

US forces have been stationed on Okinawa since the end of WW2, and the base has long been a contentious issue in Japan. This latest series of protests are against the construction of new bases in Henoko and Takae, which locals say will damage the ecosystem.

Responding to a series of questions put to him by The Washington Post, Yamashiro wrote from his prison cell: “I can’t help but think this smells like a political judgment, not a judicial one, This is an unjust and illegal detention, and I don’t think it should be allowed to happen. It’s probably related to the current situation of the base issue in Okinawa.”

Under Japanese law, suspects can be held for a period of 23 days before they must be charged or released. Yamashiro has been held for three times that period and has also reportedly been prevented from seeing his family throughout his detention.

Yamashiro’s supporters have submitted a petition ( https://goo.gl/1oI8Uu ) calling for his release to Naha district court. It has reportedly been signed by 40,000 people and there have been a number of protests outside the building.

A number of public figures including documentary writer Satoshi Kamata, author Keiko Ochiai, and commentator Makoto Sataka have also called for his release.

The activist remains defiant, writing to The Washington Post: “I will not get discouraged, I will survive through this and work hard to speak for angry Okinawan people.”

Japan Defense Minister Said Tokyo Covers Over 80% of US Military Presence Costs

The Japanese share in costs spent on US military presence in the Asian country exceeded 80 percent in 2015, Defense Minister Tomomi Inada said.

According to the Japanese Kyodo news agency, Inada made the figures public, speaking in the lower house of the country’s parliament.

Tokyo and Washington have close ties in the sphere of military and technical cooperation. The United States have a military contingent of some 54,000 servicemen deployed at the Asian country, within the framework of the US-Japan security treaty signed in 1951. Most of US troops in Japan are deployed in the western Japanese prefecture of Okinawa.

According to The Wall Street Journal, in 2016 the Japanese budget included about $4 billion on expenses related to the presence of the US military bases in the country.

Gay Acceptance in the U.S Military

Throughout its history, the US Military  had an inconsistent policy when it came to homosexuals in the military. Prior to World War II, there was no written policy barring homosexuals from serving, although sodomy was considered a crime by military law ever since Revolutionary War times. In 1778, Lieutenant Gotthold Frederick Enslin became the first soldier to be drummed out of the Continental Army for sodomy.

Homosexuality Policies in the Korean War and Vietnam War

During World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, the military defined homosexuality as a mental defect and officially barred homosexuals from serving based on medical criteria. However, when personnel needs increased due to combat, the military developed a habit of relaxing its screening criteria. Many homosexual men and women serviced honorably during these conflicts. Unfortunately, these periods were short-lived. As soon as the need for combat personnel decreased, the military would involuntarily discharge them.

1982 – Complete Ban of Gays in the Military

It wasn’t until 1982 that the Department of Defense officially put in writing that “homosexuality was incompatible with military service,” when they published a DOD directive stating such. According to a 1992 report by the Government Accounting Office, nearly 17,000 men and women were discharged under this new directive during the 1980s.

The Birth of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” 1993

By the end of the 1980s, reversing the military’s policy was emerging as a priority for advocates of gay and lesbian civil rights. Several lesbian and gay male members of the military came out publicly and vigorously challenged their discharges through the legal system.

By the beginning of 1993, it appeared that the military’s ban on gay personnel would soon be overturned.

President Clinton announced that he intended to keep his campaign promise by eliminating military discrimination based on sexual orientation. But, this didn’t sit well with the Republican-controlled Congress. Congressional leaders threatened to pass legislation that would bar homosexuals from serving if Clinton issued an executive order changing the policy.

After lengthy public debate and congressional hearings, the President and Senator Sam Nunn, chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, reached a compromise which they labeled Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue. Under its terms, military personnel would not be asked about their sexual orientation and would not be discharged simply for being gay. However having sexual relations, or displaying romantic overtures with members of the same sex, or telling anyone about their sexual orientation is considered “homosexual conduct” under the policy and is a basis for involuntary discharge.

This is was known as the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law and became the Department of Defense policy.

Changing Times for Society and the Military

At the time, most military leaders and young enlisted folk (who were forced to live in the barracks with a roommate) took a conservative view about allowing gays to serve openly in the military. But the attitudes of society changed through the next two decades. By 2010, most junior enlisted (the one’s who have to live in the barracks), today, saw nothing wrong with homosexuality and would not be bothered by serving with those they know to be gay. Today, almost everyone gets a single room (with no roommate) following basic training and job school. In those few situations where military personnel share living accommodations (such as deployments and ships), it is generally several military members living together.

Repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell 2010

In December of 2010, the House and Senate voted in favor to repeal the policy known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.” President Obama then signed it into law December 22, 2010. A repeal is ant action of revoking or annulling a law or congressional act. The nation decided that by September 20, 2011, homosexuals would no longer fear discharge from the military by admitting to their sexual preference. Homosexuals have the freedom to serve in the armed forces openly.

Over 13,000 servicemen and women were discharged for being gay while the don’t ask, don’t tell policy was in effect. The repeal has prompted many to try and reenlist. Many men and women who have been serving came out of the closet on various media. Many organizations and groups supporting gay and lesbian military members surfaced and have even organized official public gatherings with the military.

Recognition of Same-Sex Marriages

Following the Supreme Court ruling that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, the Department of Defense announced it would extend spousal and family benefits for same-sex marriages that would be the same as those given for traditional marriages.

Transgender Regulations Repealed 2016

Another frontier was crossed when the ban on service by openly transgender persons in the military was repealed on July 1, 2016.

Sorry, you served well, but the country doesn’t need you anymore…

Last Friday 2 Okinawan local young men heard shots near the US military base. They have come close to the US base walls and saw US marines shooting dogs. There were about a hundred of them, all barking and screaming. These 2 guys reported about this to local mass media.

The reporters of this media found out that in US army dogs have limited service time. As for US Forces Japan dogs after years of service for human are collected from all bases to a special place in the centre of Okinawa Island (Central training area). As soon as this facility gets filled all dogs are to be ‘cleared’. So those 2 guys saw a procedure of dogs execution by US marines.

That’s what all friends of US get. A bullet in their backs…

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