A group of 15 U.S. Marines stationed at Camp Gonsalves in Japan was confronted by local residents after the soldiers strayed off their training area.
The Marines reportedly encountered residents of the nearby Higashi village in the Okinawa district of Kunigami District after losing their way to the camp’s Jungle Warfare Training Center at around 3:40 p.m., reported Stars and Stripes.
According to 3rd Marine Division spokesman Lt. Col. Kurt Stahl, the soldiers headed immediately toward the Gonsalves gate upon realizing their mistake.
A representative from the Defense Ministry’s Okinawa Defense Bureau shared that as the Marines made their way back to camp, “they were chased by a group of locals, and one of them tried to take a gun from the Marines.”
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The person who reportedly tried to grab the gun was later identified by local press as Akino Miyagi, a butterfly researcher living in Higashi Village, Okinawa.
Miyagi, a known advocate against the U.S. military presence in Okinawa, later told the Okinawa Times: “I got close to them and grabbed a gun, but we didn’t chase them.”
According to Miyagi, carrying guns out of the base is not normal and “is very scary.”
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Miyagi has been against the bases since discovering the large amounts of military waste the U.S. forces left in a former military training area in northern Okinawa Island.
In 2021, local police searched her home after she was accused of placing a small amount of military waste in front of the U.S. Marine Corps Northern Training Area gate. During the search, authorities confiscated her personal belongings, such as her computer, video camera and smartphone.
Pollution, noise and alleged violence committed by U.S. base personnel have fueled the growing anti-base movement in Okinawa over the years.
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Stahl claimed that the Marines were not carrying live ammunition, noting that they “strive to be good neighbors and mitigate the impact of training on the local community.”
While Miyagi was not arrested, local authorities are reportedly considering recommending charges against the researcher.
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