Service Members see 'Spike' in Anti-American Demonstrations
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 21, 2000 American military personnel are urged to pay more attention to force protection in light of a "spike" in demonstrations against the American presence in Japan and Korea.
The increase in demonstrations against the American presence in the region is probably due to the summit in Okinawa, Japan, and because of some recent political developments in South Korea, Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon said at a briefing here July 20.
Opposition groups "are episodically more energetic," he said. "But the governments remain steadfast for the presence of the American military in the Asia-Pacific region."
Japan and South Korea's governments and the vast majority of the citizens of those two countries support the presence of American troops in the region, Bacon said. "We have nearly 100,000 troops forward deployed in Asia. They provide the foundation for prosperity and peace and stability in the area, and I think people realize that."
U.S. troops have made it possible for these countries to "enjoy a level of prosperity and [make] an investment in non-military economic growth that would have been impossible without the American presence," he said.
"We are there at the invitation and the will of the sovereign governments of Japan and South Korea and we intend to remain there," Defense Secretary William S. Cohen said during a recent trip to the region.
A number of anti-American incidents have occurred near bases in South Korea, Bacon said. The most violent was the murder of Army Dr. (Maj.) David Berry, June 25. Berry was stabbed to death while walking with two other doctors in Itaewon, a popular shopping area in Seoul. U.S. Forces, Korea officials said a 37-year-old out-of-work construction worker was charged with the crime.
Other attacks have been made against American service members, a Korean national working for U.S. Forces Korea and the spouses of American service members, Bacon said.
American officials in Korea have urged U.S. personnel to travel in groups or at least in pairs, Bacon said. They have urged personnel "to be more aware of the situation around them and not to get into big crowds or angry crowds," he said. "They've urged them to report any suspicious activity to MPs immediately."
In South Korea, U.S. military police will increase their liaison with Korean National Police in areas frequented by Americans.