Okinawans on the
warpath outside U.S. Marine Base Zukeran, next to
Okinawa City, Oct. 17. Already enraged by the manner with
Tokyo and Washington treat their concerns, the apparent rape of a
another local resident by U.S. troops has again enraged local residents.
'Spew Magma' Over Crimes of U.S. Forces (Okinawa Times, Japan)
"Sixty seven years have passed since the end of the war. Is
there any other region in which women's human rights have been threatened for
such a long period? ... Even in the relatively limited time since Okinawa was officially
returned to Japan at the end of last year, there have been 127 cases of rape
and attempted rape by members of the U.S. Forces. ... . Okinawans
can take it no longer. The volcano of resentment will start spewing magma unless
the U.S. and Japanese governments start enforcing visible measures."
Two U.S. sailors, Seaman Christopher Browning (23) and Petty
Officer 3rd Class SkylerDozierwalker
(23), have been arrested by a joint squad of Okinawa police and the
prefecture's serious crimes unit, on suspicion of the gang rape and assault of
a woman who was on her way home in central Okinawa.
No blame whatsoever can be attributed to the victim. This is
a particularly vicious case that has trampled the human rights of the woman.
According to police, the two U.S. sailors called over to the
woman in broken Japanese. When she ignored them and continued on her way, they came
up from behind and held her in a full nelson, then dragging her into a secluded
spot for the rape.
The servicemen are based at the Fort Worth Naval Air Station
in Texas, and arrived in Okinawa on the 14th via Naval Air Facility Atsugi in
Kanagawa. They had completed their supply mission and were scheduled to depart
for Guam on the 16th, the day of the crime.
The suspects were staying at a local hotel, and were due to check out
that very morning, which raises suspicion that they deliberately chose the day
of departure for the commission of their crime. This is a line of inquiry that
the Okinawa police should thoroughly investigate in bringing the truth to
This is no isolated incident. Another sexual assault by a U.S.
Marine happened in August, on a street in the southern part of the island. As a
response to these offenses, Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto has said he intends
to set up a joint committee of Americans and Japanese. For Okinawans,
though, the phrases "prevention of future incidents" and "enforcement
of strict discipline," which are bandied about by both governments every
time a crime occurs, are simply empty gestures meant to placate their anger.
Why haven't "prevention of future incidents" and "enforcement
of strict discipline" already been put in place, and why do these
incidents continue to occur? The joint committee needs to ask.
Sixty seven years have passed since the end of the war. Is
there any other region in which women’s human rights have been threatened for
such a period?
At a meeting of the Prefectural Assembly Special Committee
on U.S. Military Affairs, Okinawa police revealed that even in the relatively
limited period since Okinawa
was officially returned to Japan [in 1974], there have been
127 cases of rape and attempted rape by members of U.S. Forces. And these
are only the recorded incidents. In 1995, three U.S. servicemen gang raped a
schoolgirl, which resulted in a prefecture-wide protest. Since then, repulsive
crimes against women seem without end.
[Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article suggested that Okinawa was officially returned to Japan last year. In fact, it was returned to Japan's control in 1972. The 127 crimes mentioned took place in the almost four decades since 1972 - not since last year. Worldmeets.US regrets the error.]
"B52s in the sky, submarines in the sea, toxic gases on
the ground, and nowhere to hide," is how Okinawa was described before it
was returned to Japan, and when it comes to the excessive burden of the bases, nothing
has fundamentally changed since then. "Ospreys in the sky, and crimes by
U.S. servicemen on the ground" - that is the current situation 40 years
on. Military considerations still remain the priority, while the safety and
wellbeing of residents are casually dismissed.
There is an inherent contradiction in cramming 74 percent of
all U.S. military facilities into an Okinawa bursting at the seams. Makeshift
solutions will no longer suffice, yet both the Japanese and American
governments continue to ignore the voices of Okinawans
asking for the burden to be lightened.
At the 2000 Okinawa Summit [the G8-summit], President
Bill Clinton promised to "reduce the U.S. military footprint," i.e.:
ease the burden and impact. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell also admitted,
in a paper published the same year, that "too many eggs were put in one
basket" with regard to Okinawa.
Yet these measures have yet to be put in place, because the
Japanese government continues to demand that the Marines remain stationed in
Okinawa. Okinawans can take it no longer. The volcano
of resentment will start spewing magma unless the U.S. and Japanese governments
start enforcing visible measures.