Monday, February 11, 2008

US Marine Charged Over Japan Rape

US marine charged over Japan rape
Al Jazeera English

A US marine has been arrested and charged with raping a schoolgirl on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa, in an incident that could strain ties between the two allies.

The 38-year-old marine staff sergeant who was stationed at Camp Courtney in Okinawa, denies that he raped the 14-year-old on Sunday, although he has admitted he forced the girl down and kissed her.

Japan's Kyodo news agency said he decided to drive the girl home when she started crying, and that the girl had telephoned her friends for help.

Hirokazu Nakaima, the governor of Okinawa, said he felt "great anger" over the alleged assault.

"I can never forgive such a crime, especially when the victim is a junior high school student."

A similar incident involving the rape of a 12-year-old Japanese schoolgirl by three US servicemen in Okinawa sparked huge protests in 1995.

The three marines convicted of rape were each jailed between six-and-a-half to seven years.

News of the latest alleged rape comes as the Japanese government tries to persuade residents to accept a plan to relocate a US air base from a densely-populated city in central Okinawa to the coastal city of Nago.

The US Marine Corps in Japan, in an e-mailed statement, said it took the allegation "very seriously" and was fully cooperating with the Okinawa police.

Japan is home to some 50,000 US troops, the bulk of them based in Okinawa, under a mutual security pact.

But residents have long resented bearing what they see as an unfair burden for maintaining the US-Japan security alliance and complain about US military bases causing crime, noise and accidents.

In 2006, Japan and the US agreed to realign US troops in the country including relocating air stations and moving some 8,000 marines from Okinawa to the US Pacific territory of Guam.


Anonymous said...

That's just great. Why isn't someone putting a leash on those GIs over there. It seems senseless to have our guys over there and to have them put themselves in such a situation. I don't believe that they have any respect for themselves, their superiors nor the country in which they represent. If the DNA proves true, that he did it, then 25 yrs. to life for him!

Josh said...

25 to life? I highly doubt it. The 3 guys that raped the kid in 1995 (no one disputes they did it, to my knowledge) got 6-7 years each, after tens of thousands PUBLICLY protested.

When a crime is committed in a parking lot that is literally across the street from my apartment, which strains relations between the top 2 national GDP on the planet, I tend to pay a lot of attention. Even when there aren't mass demonstrations demanding justice at the base that I live only 2 blocks from, where I do my banking & receive my mail & buy my groceries & check out my library books, I still pay attention, so you can imagine I'm trying to think through the most recent heinous atrocity my nation has committed on this wonderful island that I truly love. Needless to say, there is a lot of anger about this issue & some unrealistic denial & a LOT of over-simplification (nothing new, I know) that I'm reading & hearing & sometimes even tempted to agree with. But specifically as a member of the offended community & also as a citizen of the offender's nation, I have a few thoughts that I've begun posting on public forums, so why not right here too? My musings are as follows.

As an American citizen (though too often, including right now, not a very proud one), I feel like this type of absolutely reprehensible behavior is a real problem in US society at large, most likely a product of our flawed socioeconomic situation(s) & a collective lacking sense of healthy moral values, as a people group. Nowhere else in the world that I've lived & traveled in my 30 years thus far (that currently includes much of North/Central/South Americas, Western Europe & parts of East Asia) have I been as impressed with a nation's collective mindset towards how to live good, complete lives alongside many others, than right here on Okinawa & really in all of Japan, as a whole. The commitment to educating their children to respect & honor others is quite evident, not only in the extremely low violent crime rates (we often don't even lock our doors except when we remember the American degenerates too nearby), but also in their actions & attitudes towards us as we move about & interact. Yes, we had an unsecured $80 (new) bicycle taken from our parking lot downstairs but it was one of the homeless men that sleeps in the park across the street, so he didn't go far with it before we found it & reclaimed it as he lay passed out (it now sports a US$0.90 bike lock). That's the extent of the greed we've witnessed in a land that usually realizes well before we even do that we are strangers & we are vulnerable. That's impressive, my friends!!

So I am quite ashamed & saddened that my American brothers (who are here because the US military stationed them here) insist on tainting such a society with our very American perversions & illicit behaviors. Yes, there IS an extremely large number of US military personnel here (for reasons that are themselves EXTREMELY complex & have been so ever since the Japanese empire early last century began to seek to expand itself at the expense of other peoples) & this IS the southernmost prefecture of Japan (I do realize it's been Japanese for only a century so far) & the site of a horrendously bloody battle in an absolutely awful war that the US won. But these service members themselves are but a sampling of the larger US society & I can tell that the military has actually made a concerted effort to keep the young, most often offense-prone members (this man was 38; he defied the stats) on a much tighter leash than it does back in the US (where similar crimes are also committed WAY too often, I'd be shocked if the last very similar occurrence was over 12 years ago & not perhaps last year or even last week).

Thus, I propose that the real problem does not start & stem from within the US military culture (here or anywhere else in the world) nor from any lack of discipline or concern over its members' behaviors, but rather from issues that plague the entire US society today. The fact is that the US military offers an attractive option to almost every US citizen who has had big challenges in life (relative to the perceived majority of US citizens) or maybe made some bad choices, finding themselves with desires & a real opportunity to move past them. That is most often what military service offers to those that agree to sign over their lives, rights & freedoms in the prime of their physical maturity. Unfortunately, sometimes that also means that these citizens' "demons" enlist along with them, eventually revealing themselves & plaguing people in other nations where they are stationed, rather than among the people that allowed the demons to be created at all.

But I also ask you to consider something. Is Japan completely without dessert in this situation? Perhaps, had a greedy & egotistical empire not tried to take over the entire Asian & Pacific hemisphere over 70 years ago before then surprise attacking the US military & nation "preemptively" which led to an all-out horror-filled war involving the majority of the military forces on this planet, things might be different today. But it's not. We have those results of those decisions & actions & indeed many others of the past to explain the situations we face today. Okinawa is not Japan, I realize to be a popular & substantial argument. But really that's a whole different argument. With that premise, the problem will not be tackled starting with US military presence (which will be justified as long as this is still Japan) but with the sovereignty of Okinawa from Japan. As long as Okinawa is Japanese, there will be a place for some US military (yes, the presence can be reduced & the slow moving wheels towards that end are already creaking, but it'll be years before it happens).

It's a complex situation. Definitely sad & flawed in far too many ways, but definitely not easily quantifiable to just 1 or 2 core issues that we can just throw into a jail cell & be rid of tomorrow, if only we just decide to be. Now I'm not saying that Japan needs constitutional reform to provide their own national defenses by men & women who will respect & honor the people they serve, but if they don't, I'm not sure they'll ever be free of all of the American scum that enter the military & fool their superiors into thinking they're in line & playing nicely, until that one evening when they're on their motorcycle cruising off-base in central Okinawa & a group of short-skirted (or is it just me that thinks so?) junior high school girls gives their demonic selves some desperately wanted attention. Those demons are real, my friends, & they aren't always easy to detect until they bite.