Protests Grow in Japan Against Sexual Assaults by U.S. Troops

By Joseph Essertier, World BEYOND War, July 8, 2024

Recently, in Okinawa there have been several reports of girls and women in Okinawa being sexually assaulted by members of the U.S. military. Perhaps most shocking has been the case of U.S. Air Force member Brennon R. E. Washington, who was indicted on 27 March on charges of “non-consensual sexual intercourse” and “indecent kidnapping” of an underage girl just before Christmas last year. Below we present a translation by Steve Rabson of a statement issued by a prominent women’s rights organization.

……..

Statement from New Japan Women’s Association (Shin Nihon Fujin no Kai)

[Protest] Yet another sexual assault by a U.S. forces member on a child is covered up by the Japanese governent. We must unite nationwide to raise our voices in protest!

A U.S. Air Force officer stationed in the 18th Air Wing at Kadena Airbase drove off in his car with the girl, and sexually assaulted her knowing that she was under sixteen years old.

The suspect was charged by the Naha District Attorney on March 27, 2024, but the Japanese government withheld notification of the Okinawa Prefectural government in a cover-up that has sparked deep public mistrust. Not until three months later did the public learn of the assault when the local media reported it on June 25.

Furthermore, that day the media revealed that the government had also failed to report that in May the police had arrested and charged a Marine in Okinawa with non-consensual sex inflicting injury on a woman.

On June 27 our office sent this written protest to Prime Minister Kishida and to the Defense and Foreign Ministers:

“We strongly protest the sexual assault of a child by a U.S. forces member and its subsequent cover-up, and demand effective preventive measures.”

Now we must raise our voices from every community.

 

Many thanks to Steve Rabson, professor emeritus of East Asian studies at Brown University, for this translation above and suggestions on the explanatory text below.

……..

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is closely tracking the cases of U.S. military personnel accused of committing sexual crimes in the southern Japan island prefecture of Okinawa, a Pentagon spokesman said Tuesday, amid renewed anti-base sentiment among local residents.” While that may be true, few observers have stated the obvious, that this looks like a cover-up.

According to the latest count, the Okinawa Prefectural Government is now aware of five cases of U.S. sexual violence. These cases must remind many Okinawans of the 1995 rape of a 12-year-old girl by three U.S. service members, which sparked massive protests of against U.S. bases.

“We have to do better,” [Emanuel Rahm, U.S. Ambassador to Japan] said, adding that the U.S. military’s high standards and protocols for education and training of its troops was “just not working.”

Instead of waiting until Saturday (the 6th) to make a statement of regret, he could have reported these incidents to the Governor of Okinawa, Denny Tamaki, as soon as he became aware of them. And even better, he could have apologized to the Governor and the people of Okinawa Prefecture.

The U.S. mass media has paid a little attention to this string of incidents, but if Okinawans see zero justice coming from the U.S. government, there will be even more opposition to the U.S. military presence and pressure to stop the construction of the new base in Henoko.

Okinawa reverted from 27 years of U.S. military occupation to Japanese administration in 1972, but U.S. bases still occupy large areas of land. U.S. forces number some 25,000. 70% of the total U.S. military presence in Japan remains in the small island prefecture, with 0.6% of the nation’s land area and less than one percent of its population. Noise from military airfields interrupts classes in the schools and disturbs the sleep of local residents. Leaks of PFAS “forever chemicals” poison the drinking water. Military-related accidents include deadly helicopter crashes and drunk drivers killing pedestrians. The recent sexual assaults are only the latest in a seemingly endless series, including the gang rape of the 12-year-old girl in 1995 and the rape and murder of a 20-year-old woman in 2016.

……

[The original text of the statement from the New Japan Women’s Association appears below].

【抗議】 あいつぐ沖縄米兵少女暴行事件とその隠蔽に、

全国から声をあげ、抗議を集中しましょう

 

沖縄の米軍嘉手納基地所属の米空軍第18航空団の兵長が、面識のなかった少女を車で連れ去り、16歳未満と認識しながら性的暴行を加えた重大な事件が起きました。

この事件は3月27日に那覇地検に起訴されていながら、日本政府がそれを沖縄県に報告もせず、隠蔽したことも重大問題であり、起訴から約3カ月後の6月25日、地元メディアが報道し、初めて明るみになりました。

さらに、本日のニュースでは、5月にも沖縄県内で米海兵隊が不同意性交致傷の疑いで県警に逮捕されその後起訴された事件が起きていたにもかかわらず、報告されていなったことも報道されています。

新婦人中央本部と沖縄県本部は6月27日連名で岸田首相、防衛大臣、外務大臣あてに抗議文「沖縄米兵少女暴行事件とその隠蔽につよく抗議し、根本的対策を厳しく求めます」を送りました。各地からもできるところから声をあげていきましょう。

 

 

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