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No July 4 Fireworks at US Bases in Japan After Okinawa Rape

  • Associated Press

FILE - MV-22 Ospreys are seen at the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station and the surrounding area from an observation deck at a park in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture on southern Japan, Mar. 23, 2015.

FILE - MV-22 Ospreys are seen at the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station and the surrounding area from an observation deck at a park in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture on southern Japan, Mar. 23, 2015.

There will be no Fourth of July fireworks for American troops in Japan this year due to restrictions imposed after a former U.S. Marine was accused of murdering and raping a woman on Okinawa.

The U.S. Navy in Japan said Thursday that it had canceled planned annual Independence Day fireworks at its bases as part of an order for all American troops in Japan. Along with fireworks, concerts and parties with music will be also canceled at Navy bases in Atsugi and Yokosuka near Tokyo, and Sasebo in southern Japan.

The killing of the woman, whose body was found in May, triggered outrage on the southern island, where tensions frequently rise over U.S. military-linked crime.

The suspect, a U.S. contractor and former Marine, is charged with abandoning the woman's body, with murder and rape charges pending.

The U.S. Marine Corps and the Navy then imposed restrictions on their personnel, though some by the Navy have been eased.

Okinawa was already in the spotlight because of contentious plan to relocate a Marine Corps air station to a less-populated part of the southwestern island. The plan developed after the 1995 rape of a girl by three American servicemen enraged Okinawans.

The latest murder case has rekindled Okinawa's anger over its burden of heavy U.S. troop presence there.

Half of about 50,000 American troops stationed in Japan under the bilateral security agreement are on the small island, where residents have complained about crime and noise from the bases.

The U.S. military says the crime rate among its ranks in Japan is lower than among the general public.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government, which wants Japan to play a bigger military role internationally, backs the Japan-U.S. security alliance.

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