After the rape of a young girl by three U.S. servicemen, women
take to the streets of Naha, capital of Okinawa, Sept. 22, 1995.
This editorial suggests that as far as prosecuting the crimes of
U.S. servicemen, things are far better today than they were.
Alleged Rape By
U.S. Servicemen Handled Better than 1995 Sexual Assault (The Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan)
have changed since the 1995 rape. Back then, the U.S. side at first refused to
hand over to Japan authorities the servicemen involved, even though local
police had obtained arrest warrants for their arrest. This time, police already
have the suspects in custody. The two sailors are expected to be punished in
accord with Japanese judicial procedure."
A wicked, mean-spirited crime has adversely impacted the
Japan-U.S. alliance. U.S. forces must quickly take effective measures to
prevent criminal acts like these from ever being repeated.
The Okinawa prefectural police have arrested two U.S. Navy
men for allegedly beating and raping and a Japanese woman who was walking home
before dawn in central Okinawa. The case must be thoroughly investigated.
The two sailors, who are stationed at a naval air station in
Texas, arrived in Japan earlier this month and were scheduled to leave Japan on
the day of the crime.
Last August, in the early hours on a Noha
street, a U.S. Marine stationed in Okinawa sexually molested a Japanese woman. Should
such crimes continue to occur, the stationing of U.S. forces in Okinawa, indispensible
for maintaining the security of Japan, will become less tenable.
It's no wonder that Okinawa Governor HirokazuNakaima reacted indignantly by saying, "This is absolute
madness." The U.S. military must urgently take concrete measures to deter
further such crime on the part of its people.
Lectures on Okinawa
Today, American troops stationed in Okinawa are obliged to limit
their off-base drinking, and are obliged to attend lectures on the culture and
history of Okinawa. But servicemen who stay only briefly, like the two sailors who
have been arrested, are not.
Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto and other members of the cabinet
are seeking a meeting of the Japan-U.S. Joint Committee to demand that the U.S.
government take strong disciplinary action.
More comprehensive and effective measures for educating
young American servicemen, both in the medium- and long-term, must be put in
place, as well as tighter controls over when they leave the base.
Because it has occurred just after the deployment in the
prefecture of the MV-22 Osprey, America's new transport aircraft, resentment
among residents has significantly worsened.
However, responding to the rape and assuring the safety of the
Osprey are essentially separate issues, the solutions to which should be pursued
Which is why it is necessary for both Japan and the U.S. to
make continued efforts to prevent accidents and reduce noise associated with the
new aircraft, and work to lessen the burden of residents living near U.S. bases.
Local anger may increase
Okinawa government officials are concerned that local
sentiment against U.S. forces in Okinawa could worsen significantly as it did
in 1995, when a young girl was raped by U.S. [three]
However, circumstances have changed since the 1995 rape. Back
then, the U.S. side at first refused to hand over to Japanese authorities the
servicemen involved, even though local police had obtained arrest warrants for their
arrest. This time, police already have the suspects in custody. The two sailors
are expected to be punished in accord with Japanese judicial procedure.
[Okinawa] Governor Nakaima has
once again demanded a revision of the Japan-U.S.
Status of Forces Agreement. But in the latest case, the treaty, which
restricts the transfer of U.S. suspects to Japan authorities, including
servicemen, is not hindering the investigation.
Traditionally, the two governments have been able to resolve
specific problems by improving the way the Status of Forces Agreement is applied.
This is the most realistic approach and is most likely to allow for a stronger,
more robust alliance.