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ARTICLE: Sex And Race In Okinawa


Unswerving cyclist
14 Mar 2002
May Time Magazine pardon our flagrant copyright infringements (hey, it's advertising!), but here's an interesting article on the relations between the U.S. Forces and Okinawa's inhabitants.

August 27, 2001 Vol. 158 No. 8

Sex And Race In Okinawa

U.S. servicemen and local women can be a volatile mix. A rape allegation against an airman casts harsh light on the island's race relations


Timothy Woodland is in a grave predicament. The 6-ft. 4-in., 24-year-old Air Force staff sergeant sits in a jail cell in Okinawa, Japan. He goes on trial next month in a proceeding that could last as long as a year. He has already been through Japan's standard detention period--15 days in his case but sometimes as long as 23--during which a suspect is questioned without the presence of a lawyer. Denied bail, Woodland can comfort himself with English-language books, a Bible and American-style meals but no cigarettes, TV or air conditioning in heat that often tops 100F. He isn't allowed to speak or write to friends and family. His mother, Arlene Jordan, who works in the engineering-services department at Fort Eustis, the U.S. Army base in Hampton Roads, Va., says she used to chat with her son every week by phone but hasn't communicated with him since his arrest. "Let's just say he is very far away from home," she tells TIME. He may be there for a long time. The African American is charged with raping a young Japanese woman in the early-morning hours of June 29 and, if found guilty, could spend up to 15 years in a Japanese prison.

To the rest of the world, the central question of the trial may be simple: Did Woodland rape the woman, or didn't he? But in Okinawa, the already murky case has been churned into a raging whirl by nationalist politics, screaming media, a half-century of dammed-up local grief and--roiling beneath it all--an undercurrent of racism.

Okinawa hates America, and Okinawa loves America. Okinawa is in fact so American that it can appear deceptively like home to the 25,203 U.S. servicemen stationed on its 38 U.S. military facilities. Reminders of Uncle Sam abound--America Mart, America Hotel and Club America. A two-story emporium called American Depot stands in the shadow of a giant Ferris wheel emblazoned with a Coca-Cola logo. Even at traditional matsuri, or summer festivals, children wave cotton candy, shirtless skateboarders do stunts on open walkways and women in shorts and bikini tops lick jewel-colored snow cones.

Tourists and dream seekers from the Japanese mainland flock to the archipelago's 60 tropical islands--called Okinawa, like the main island--precisely for its slice of red, white and blue. The biggest draws, especially for Japanese women, are the real live Americans. Amejo is local slang for girls who love Americans, but amejo can be found anywhere in Japan where Americans hang out. However, ground zero for amejo and their kokujo subculture is Okinawa.

Kokujo (girls who like black men) paint their skin cocoa, weave their hair in cornrows, dress like Lil' Kim--all the better to attract the prime catch, the black military man. In a country notorious for its disdain for people of color--pale skin has traditionally been the highest mark of beauty--the emergence of a subculture fetishizing blacks raises numerous issues, from the proliferation and power of global image peddlers like MTV to very basic questions of racial and sexual identity.

But stereotypes swing the other way too. The image of the geisha still pervades Western ideas of Japanese women. Among servicemen, the gaggles of pretty Japanese girls are a big reason that Okinawa ranks high on the "dream sheet," the list of desired stations for enlisted men, which usually includes Hawaii and the bases closest to their hometowns. Demetrius Young, 27, a black Marine corporal from Miami, has been stationed in Okinawa just a week and already: "I loooove Okinawa. Why? The ladies, they're all beee-yooo-tiful." There's a difference between viewing the ladies as delectable temptations, though, and seeing them as a free buffet course. "A young, dumb guy can get to thinking they're there for the taking," says Ray Fernandez, 33, a black former serviceman with 15 years in Okinawa.

Both racism and sexism are relevant because they may dictate this case. Still, in the days immediately following the rape charge, most news outlets didn't report the race of the accused. Some Western journalists did, but they didn't note that the accuser was almost certainly a kokujo and that the nightclub culture around the Okinawa bases is almost as segregated as the Jim Crow South. When off duty, most military personnel tend to congregate according to race. The clubs that black servicemen frequent are also kokujo haunts. Of course, for a kokujo to say she was there to meet a man is not proof of consent. In the U.S. today, a woman's lifestyle and sexual history aren't relevant in such cases. In Japan, they can invalidate rape charges altogether. Given what is known about the events surrounding the incident, the case against Timothy Woodland may never have led to his indictment if he were a Japanese man.

On Thursday night, June 28, the action in Okinawa is on the third floor of a building in a candy-colored open-air mall called the American Village. A pink-and-blue neon sign shows where everyone is going: 3F, a bar and restaurant with a Southeast Asian theme. A couple of hundred people are already there, drawn by $3 cocktails and reggae and hip-hop tunes. It's so crowded that manager Jeff Short has abandoned his tiki-hut office to help behind the bar. The crowd is familiar, mostly female Japanese partyers and U.S. servicemen. Many of the girls dress alike--stiletto heels or sneakers, low-slung capris and halter tops, a spray of body glitter. (Short now says he doesn't recall a diminutive woman with white sneakers, a red sundress, brown-tinted hair and a butterfly tattoo on her shoulder.) Others do.

For about an hour the woman dances and drinks with a black American, a former serviceman who is an Okinawa resident. She tells him she moved to Okinawa a month ago and is working at a hospital. Her American boyfriend is in the U.S., she continues. When she and the ex-serviceman decide to leave together, the American says something to a friend about money--"13," to be exact. The woman misunderstands him and fumes, "I do not look 13." She abruptly returns to the bar.

Later, outside, the rejected former serviceman sees the woman hand in hand with a tall black man with a buzz cut. They are heading into the parking lot. He calls to them: "She ain't drunk, she's acting." The girl glares at him and says, "F___ you." The pair walk off and slip into the back seat of a sedan. It's 2 a.m.

Police reports are sketchy about what happened next, but a Japanese weekly, the Shukan Bunshun, reports that the woman climbed out of the car when her seatmate became too aggressive. She got about 60 ft. away from the car when the American caught up with her. A few moments later, a Marine friend who was planning to drive the woman home came looking for her. He found her face down on the hood of a station wagon, a black man having intercourse with her from behind. When the Marine called out, the man zipped up and hopped into a car driven by his friends. The vehicle's license plate, eyewitnesses say, bore the letter Y--signifying a military vehicle. At 2:32 a.m. local police received a call from the woman's friend. Soon, blue-uniformed officers were pacing the parking lot. Short, the 3F bar manager, had just closed up and, puzzled by the crowd gathering outside, asked a serviceman, "What's up?" The answer: a rape.

The incident sparked a crisis in U.S.-Japan relations. For four days after an arrest warrant was issued on July 2, the U.S. refused to hand Woodland over to Okinawa police, infuriating Okinawans and many other Japanese. Under the Status of Forces Agreement between Japan and the U.S.--the so-called SOFA, which dictates service members' legal rights in Japan--those charged with a criminal offense are protected from incarceration by the Japanese until after they are indicted. Among the reasons for this is the long, isolating detention period, which the U.S. considers overly harsh. It was only after a 12-year-old schoolgirl was raped by three servicemen in 1995 that the U.S. bent its objections and promised to consider handing over suspects prior to indictment in cases of "heinous" crimes. Okinawa had been transformed by the 1995 attack, and rage against the presence of U.S. forces overflowed into the streets. Victims formed support groups; students learned to rally. Over every incident, big and small, that followed, politicians pelted the U.S. military with demands that it impose curfews, change treaties and shut down bases. The three men are serving seven-year sentences in a special Japanese prison ward for U.S. servicemen south of Tokyo--in which Woodland will probably be placed if he loses his case. After serving their sentence, the men will receive dishonorable discharges and be returned to the U.S.

Incensed over the perceived foot dragging in the Woodland case, hundreds of Okinawans protested. The uproar reached all the way to President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, upsetting their first summit meeting in Washington. The U.S. Air Force eventually gave Woodland up. He was arrested by the Japanese on July 6, a week after the incident, and indicted on rape charges 15 days later.

To read the Okinawa papers now, you would think the main mission of U.S. military personnel there is to engage in crime sprees. A closer look at the police blotter tells a different story. According to the Okinawa prefectural government, U.S. military personnel were responsible for 5,006 crimes between 1972 and 2001. That means of the 290,814 crimes committed in Okinawa during the 29-year period, 1.7% were perpetrated by a group that comprised 4% of the population. Rapes and sexual assaults by servicemen grab the biggest headlines. Last year 2,260 rapes nationwide were reported to authorities. Statisticians don't break out how many were committed by foreigners, but this much is known: of those rapes, 267 occurred in Osaka, 260 in Tokyo and 29 in Okinawa.

It does not bode well for Woodland that his case has become a focal point of U.S.-Japan relations or that the Japanese media continue to cover every foolish escapade by U.S. servicemen. And there are many such episodes. During a single week in late July, one U.S. serviceman in Okinawa fired a BB gun at pizza-delivery boys, another tipped over a stranger's motor scooter, another set fire to a car, and a Marine lance corporal was sentenced to five years for arson attacks on stores.

The crimes haven't all been petty. U.S. troops of all races have committed atrocities in Okinawa, particularly sexual assaults. In the years following World War II, locals say, rapes by U.S. servicemen were shockingly rampant--but the U.S. military, which governed the islands then, has no record of any such crimes. In more recent years, the list of crimes makes shameful reading for any American: July 2000, a 19-year-old Marine is charged with molesting a 14-year-old girl; January 2000, a Marine lifts the skirt of a 16-year-old to take a picture of her underwear. But the crimes committed by blacks are particularly noted and remembered by Okinawans, and few seemed surprised when the three servicemen who raped the 12-year-old girl turned out to be black.

"When a suspect is black and from the military, people here assume he must be guilty," says Annette Eddie-Callagain, an African-American lawyer. "Meanwhile, whenever something happens, the rest of us think, Oh, please, don't let him be black." Eddie-Callagain and two Japanese lawyers represent Woodland, who has pleaded not guilty and argues that the sex was consensual. Eddie-Callagain admits the politically charged atmosphere and the Japanese judicial system stack the odds against her client. "Here you're guilty until proved innocent," says Eddie-Callagain, who returned to Okinawa in 1995 to set up an independent practice after leaving the Air Force. "In Japan the criminal-justice system is run by prosecutors," she says. "Defense lawyers are just bystanders."

Though prosecutors here don't discuss cases before or during trial, their strongest evidence appears to be that Woodland admits to having sex with the woman. But in Japan, winning a rape case is never a cinch--particularly for a woman who admits to having an active sex life, which can scuttle her credibility. "The defendant's lawyer can use the number of a victim's sexual partners as evidence," says Yukiko Tsunoda, a lawyer in Shizuoka. "To win a rape case, a plaintiff often must prove violence, a threat to her life, and that she resisted with all her might."

Because of her presumed lifestyle, the woman who accuses Woodland has taken a beating in the court of public opinion. In late July she sent a letter to the media begging reporters to stop hounding her and her friends. "There is victim bashing both in the press and by the public," says Suzuyo Takazato, founder of the Rape Emergency Intervention Counseling Center in Okinawa and an Okinawan assemblywoman. Makiko Tanaka, Japan's female Foreign Minister, is reported to have said to colleagues there must have been "something wrong with the girl, going out so late at night." Old-fashioned attitudes impose shame and blame on the victim. Studies say this limits the number of rapes reported to the police to between 1% and 10% of the actual incidents.

If the public is unsympathetic to the woman, her amejo and kokujo peers are downright harsh. Some gossip that the victim dated the defendant; others speculate that her friends shamed her into calling it a rape. "We amejo feel the girl was in the wrong," says Maki Oshiro, 27, sitting in a semicircular booth at a hip-hop club called Else, one of a number of spots frequented by black U.S. servicemen. "She probably didn't know how to behave. We're here because we know it's where the Americans gather. These guys aren't scary. We know how to handle them." She mentions an English woman murdered last summer outside Tokyo; a Japanese businessman is being held on murder charges. "See? Japanese guys can be scarier."

The amejo and kokujo agree that the incident has brought unwanted critical attention to them and their habits. "Amejo is a derogatory term, isn't it?" says Hitomi Murayama, 24. "It's just another way for mainland Japanese to look down on Okinawa. They don't understand that we Okinawans are naturally friendly and outgoing--and that includes toward American servicemen."

The U.S. military establishment knew it couldn't plunk a herd of young men down in a foreign locale and expect them to act like saints. Yasutaka Oshiro, a sociology professor at Okinawa International University, has researched the history of the entertainment districts around the U.S. bases. "The zones were created by U.S. officials following World War II to counter the problem of U.S. troops raping local women with abandon," he explains. Poor unmarried local girls were corralled into prostitution. The sex market in a town called Koza outside the gates of Kadena Air Force Base roared during the Vietnam War, when thousands of troops bivouacked in Okinawa on their way to and from the war zone. The trade has simmered down, but new arrivals on base are still initiated at a Koza bar featuring live sex on stage.

Nightlife, like military service, was segregated back then. One area in Koza was designated for blacks and another for whites. Today, while the party spots are still split by race--whites head toward bars, blacks congregate in hip-hop clubs--it's a mixed bunch that piles into the "loser cruisers," military-run buses for the poor sods stationed on remote camps that take them to bars on base like the Globe & Anchor. But the guys playing arcade games and pool are white; the ones on the dance floor are black.

The girls are here too, signed in at base checkpoints by their friends and boyfriends. They're a tough bunch. Around 2 a.m. one recent night, a fight breaks out between three amejo and an American woman. A slap fest ensues before massive security guards in yellow T shirts toss the Japanese women out. The fight, of course, is over men. American men are thought to be kinder, more expressive and more romantic than Japanese men. "Really, I can't remember the last time I went out with a Japanese guy," says Yoko Taniguchi, 30, an accountant with newly braided cornrows and tight FUBU capris. She is dancing at a club called Slum. "American men--they make much better boyfriends." Some women fall in love. A few desire marriage and a life abroad. For others, it's just about sex. "It's just asobi ," says one kokujo. Another blames Japanese men. "They don't know how to talk, they don't know how to ask you out, and they certainly don't know what to do in bed," she says. "American guys--black guys--do."

Back at the American Village a month after the incident, a matsuri is in full swing. But across the street, in front of a billboard for the movie Pearl Harbor, is a group from the local Ryukyu University. The students wave banners and shout hoarsely into bullhorns: "We oppose American bases on Okinawa! We oppose President Bush! We oppose violence to women! We will not rest till the bases go!"

At dusk outside the gates of Kadena Air Force Base, neon signs flicker on as servicemen begin to congregate, poking around in the clothing stores, buying yakitori on sticks from street vendors and horsing around. Some of the men later make their way to the dance clubs, others to the billiard bars. As midnight approaches, carloads of women pull into the parking lots nearby. They fix their lipstick in the rearview mirrors and tease out their hair as if according to some military instruction manual. It's as if they're going into battle.

With Reporting by Brian Bennett/Hong Kong, Toko Sekiguchi and Hiroko Tashiro/Tokyo

Copyright ツゥ Time Magazine
Well, a crime is a crime of what so ever. eventhough the woman live a life that did not suit well with local culture, it did not give the man the right to do what so ever towards the woman...i cant blame the jap gal generally for opting for america guy coz we asian are pretty slow and prefer stability then quick oppurtinites...we impressed the gal with good portfolio but dissapoint them in another way. What a shame. Well, the case is over long time ago. If the japs dunwan US troops there, just go home then, but i think there will be obstacle to it.
I am in the U.S military and I am stationed on Okinawa it is a shame that we have commited these crimes while being on Okinawa but if you look at the statistics we have commited very few less crimes then the Okinwans commit. as posted above

U.S. military personnel were responsible for 5,006 crimes between 1972 and 2001. That means of the 290,814 crimes committed in Okinawa during the 29-year period, 1.7% were perpetrated by a group that comprised 4% of the population

It still is a shame that these things have been done and every time I read that a new crime has been commited it pisses me off because I love Okinawa and don't want to hurt the relations between our 2 countries. It seems that you thomas want us to leave Okinawa pretty badly but me personally I don't want to and I think that we should stay here for a multitude of reasons.
i agree with jake here, cant help it if somepeople uses it against the american there...hope ya have a great time there...:)
If the bases were all shut down think of all the businesses that would go under. I was stationed in Okinawa and we used to go to this bar just outside of Camp Foster and the mama-san there loved us, why? business!! They hate us all right, but own a bar and serve us some tasty mojo, then you'll see how much they love us. Crimes have been committed and yes it is a shame, but alot of us did the right thing, or should i say the majority did. I was bombed most of the time i was there, and i didn't harm anyone, in fact i met quite a number of Okinawans that liked me very much. Even drank with okinawans that paid for it all, of course i was very grateful. A few rotten apples spoil a whole bunch.
Although I'm Canadian and I know only the politics of the matter in passing, I would say that as peipoh said, a crime is a crime, and as such it must be dealt with as the local authorities see fit. That the Japanese authorities are stiffer than American authorities is irrelevent.

Also, despite the numbers submitted by Jake (which speak for American forces in Okinawa), I feel that one shouldn't forget the flip side of the coin, which is high visibility. American forces have a higher visibility than your average joe-bloe, and as such, attract more violent resentment, especially because there is such a love-hate relationship with them in Okinawa. When people or countries occupy such a high profile positions, they always attract more violent reactions from the average working man (take celebrities or politicians, for example).

I also agree with Thomas Quinton about a few ruining it for the majority--the same applies on the mainland, at least in my case. But don't forget that a bad impression or a bad experience (in advertising concepts) will be repeated by one person to an average of 10 people, whereas a good impression or experience by one person to only to an average of 3. Which, simply put, means that bad impressions and bad experiences make longer lasting impact on people. Hence the situation in Okinawa.

Yet, not to say that what the American serviceman did is right, it still sounds like the girl teased him into it, though...
i agree with tasuki the girl could of teased him into it and also since those girls have a horny stereotype to idiots they seem like free meat so they pull some horrific **** like what that "black " guy did.i am not saying that what he did was right cuase if i saw anyone rapeing anyone i would beat the living **** out of them.i feel sorry for that girl (if she really did get raped) i can only imagine what she (might of) went through.
I disagree with the idea that the serviceman was "teased" into raping that girl (notice how we're assuming that he's guilty)...

Whether girls are dressing more provocatively nowadays or not is not the point; dressing a certain way doesn't give license to anyone to commit rape. Also, trying to justify it (whether you can admit it or not) doesn't make it ok. Attacking the girls who express their right to dress however they choose doesn't help the situation in any way. It is their choice to dress that way; they shouldn't have to feel threatened by every pervert who they come across. Whether or not you agree with what they wear also doesn't matter.

Are you going to tell me that if your daughter goes out wearing barely anything on, she brought that kind of assault upon herself? I sure hope not...
if my daughter went out with barely anything on i would ground her so hard she would be considored MIA by her peers.

it doesnt ask for rape but it doesnt exactly give the impression of a yonug wholesome woman does it?

we have to use common sense here and stop being naive...rape isnt right, but dressing like a harlot doesnt help any, if you go out looknig for sex, dressed for sex, things become fuzzy, and who is to say he is guilty?....as far as he is concerned it was consentual, and since they obviously left together with the intention of sex, only they two really know what went on, suffice to say a woman could claim an act of consentual sex was rape and it would be hard-pressed to find anyone who didnt witness the act themselves to say otherwise. rape has been used as a weapon against men for many reasons just as much as men have probably committed actual rape.

either way a case like this, where it was will always be dogged, and be more about the politics of the region and the groups involved rather then the simple act of finding out the truth and handing out justice accordingly, will never be truely fair.
nurizeko said:
if my daughter went out with barely anything on i would ground her so hard she would be considored MIA by her peers.

it doesnt ask for rape but it doesnt exactly give the impression of a yonug wholesome woman does it?

we have to use common sense here and stop being naive...rape isnt right, but dressing like a harlot doesnt help any, if you go out looknig for sex, dressed for sex, things become fuzzy, and who is to say he is guilty?
Are you serious?
Whether a girl is "looking for sex" or "dressed for sex" doesn't matter at all. Even if she is, that doesn't mean that she is looking for sex with just you. Maybe she has someone special in mind. (Or maybe she simply likes dressing like that?)
Any man who gives such a reason for raping a girl is simply looking for an excuse for living out his sexual frustration on the next possible subject.

If a judge takes such a crap as a reason to decrease the penalty he should be discharged immediately.

BTW, any man who isn't able to control his desires in sight of a sharp dressed girl is a danger for society & should be dealt with accordingly.
ill assume your niavity bossel is a passing affliction.

the simple fact is the human race amongst other things is created for reproduction...sex.

a girl/woman goes around looking like she's easy, guys are going to think she's easy, and as such, my daughter will never....ever...be allowed to dress like a **** while she's under my roof.

in your perfect world all men are good little chivalrous honourable knights who can ignore tits nearly spilling out of a tiny little hankecheif top, but thats not reality.

as i said, rape is wrong, but it doesnt help looking like a *****, and some men will see that and think their within their rights.

a rapist is a rapist and should be punished, but a woman cant be completely free of responsibility, she cant expect to go around naked in a bar of horney guys and get angry if a bloke looks, and so she should know that if she goes around near naked or revealing clothing, she;s gonig to get attention, harmless or otherwise.

of course i recognise some rapists wiill hit any woman, but some other rapists, like this guy in a bar (assuming he's guilty for a momment) are probably more victims of their own poor judgement and penis then a full out serial rapist creep.

its like going around waving a fat cash filled wallet with a sign saying rob me.....these girls gotta look out for their safety a little, being addicted to bars and drink and guys at bars isnt an excuse.
nurizeko said:
ill assume your niavity bossel is a passing affliction.
I suppose you mean naivety.
Then I wonder where you get that idea from.

the simple fact is the human race amongst other things is created for reproduction...sex.
& that means according to you: rape?

in your perfect world all men are good little chivalrous honourable knights who can ignore tits nearly spilling out of a tiny little hankecheif top
Suffering from some form of dyslexia? Where did you get that from?

as i said, rape is wrong, but it doesnt help looking like a *****, and some men will see that and think their within their rights.
You think it's not so bad to rape ******?

a rapist is a rapist and should be punished, but a woman cant be completely free of responsibility, she cant expect to go around naked in a bar of horney guys and get angry if a bloke looks
Looking is not the same as raping.

some other rapists, like this guy in a bar (assuming he's guilty for a momment) are probably more victims of their own poor judgement and penis then a full out serial rapist creep.
As I said before: any man who isn't able to control his desires in sight of a sharp dressed girl is a danger for society & should be dealt with accordingly.

its like going around waving a fat cash filled wallet with a sign saying rob me
It's not the same. & even in this case it wouldn't be OK to snatch the wallet. You might take the guy's wallet, but that's just you.

No matter whether they're walking around in their natural state, scarcely dressed or in heavy winter clothes, girls are not fair game.
Wow! I can't believe the "blame it on the victim" mentality. First of all, the moment that a woman says no, all bets are off! Unpitch the tent, roll in the carpets and take down all the flags. Second, I don't care if the woman is lying naked and is giving you the "come hither" look. As a decent human being, if someone says no, you MUST (no option here) respect and abide by their wishes when it comes to sex.
rape is rape.
100% the fault of the one who operates without consent.

"blaming the victim" is right.
The way one dresses matters not.
if, for example, someone goes to a nudist colony/beach, any random
man is not going to jump on the nearest woman and start procreating
just because she has no clothes on.

Perhaps the "The man was enticed" delusional scenario is confused with that of
a seemingly flirtatious girl who really was only being friendly
and not looking for sex in any way and a guy turned down feels disappointed?
Or some other such scenario.
I don't know.

rape is worse than murder
My wife is Okinawan and her uncle is vice president at the Ryukyuu University mentioned in the article.

Crime is just one of the complaints Okinawans have. The clash of cultures is pretty severe, especially given the fact that a large number of the US servicemen on Okinawa have zero interest in the language or culture of the society they live in. A couple of months ago while I was on a trip there I noticed a crowd of about 7 or 8 young Marines screaming and jumping around in a decorative public fountain that was NOT meant to be jumped in. They even splashed a few passersby, and most of the Japanese around were either scared or annoyed by it from what I heard them muttering. Now that sort of incident isn't going to show up in any statistics nor is it a crime, but its the kind of everyday annoyance for Okinawans that makes them fed up with having so many US troops around.

Then there is the land. Its true that the Okinawan economy is heavily dependent on US military spending, but it is becoming less and less so as the tourism industry expands. Having hundreds of square kilometres of potentially productive land taken up by foreign military facilities is a pretty damned big price to pay for whatever economic benefits they may accrue from the military, which is mostly second rate bars and kitsch second hand goods stores that cater to the tastes of soldiers.

If I was Okinawan I'd be pretty pissed off too, not just because of the relatively rare cases of rape (serious though they are) but for about a million and one other valid reasons.
And I am happened to be an Okinawan reading this thread. I lived there for over 20 years. I remember that rape incident. That caused really so many Okinawans to push the Japanese government for a major decision. Old people usually hate Americans and the base. My hometown surrounds the base. 70-80% of the land of my hometown is taken by the military airport. So people there naturally do not like Americans at all.

While some people in authority must take care of those fool marines (usually them), I do not really go against the whole issue of staitioning the base in Okinawa. Certain people do take an advantage of it. It was so for me too. Becoming a bilingual as I am now is because of that. People in Okinawa have a great opportunity to learn English as there are many people from the U.S.

Many people there really think Americans are "bad". They do look so bad over there. It's a fact. I think the soldiers are to be trained BEFORE they join the military. I don't like to see a bunch of fool teens messing my hometown like that.
The south of england probably felt the same way before the d-day landings, lol, its american troops for ya, where-ever their stationed their loud, drunk and there.

Unfortunately, until such a time as china becomes a peace-loving pacifist democratic-capitalist near puppet-state of american interest, okinawa will always serve a handy location for military assets.

Still, you'd think soldiers could be trained to respect local manners and rules, i mean, if the army is so bad that you need to escape as much as possible and go get stone drunk causing chaos then leave and go back to america, and go get stone drunk and loud in a bar in your home town or city. ☝

I hate tourists who go abroad for a holiday but dont have any interest in learning and respecting their hosts culture, expect their native food all the way in this foreign locale, and basicly show no respect or interest in the country they bloody went on holiday to....unfortunately though changing recently, this was a case with many british tourists, but they ussually flocked together in a few prefered locations in the Med.
Hey like I've said.

Blacks commit 90% of the violent crimes in America. Mexicans are a close second. Just look up : The Color of Crime and you'll see. If you look up who commits most of the rapes and assaults in Japan near American military bases.
I bet you'll see mostly dark faces. Facts are facts.
Geez these guys all asked to be stationed in Okinawa but then commit crimes and ruin the relationship... thats a shame.

People need to learn to control themselves and if hes convicted he should face the 15 years he deserves. Besides if the women are really dressed like that and like Americans because there better than Japs at... stuff, then theres no need for rape they can just keep trying and they can score.
So the American Military are removed from Okinawa and then what? Is the land going to be given back to it's rightful owners or is the JSDF going to move in and we never hear the issues of rape since it doesn't matter if they rape one of their own? Scary circumstances. Although I am wrong to question the morality of the JSDF soldiers, I do fear what kind of crooked scheme the Japanese government could plot up if the American military were to pull out.
It is certianly what has been mentioned above. A clash of cultures and a lack of understanding. Americans are born and raised to be individuals and to not let someone else step on them. Japanese are raised to be polite and to dismiss rude behavior, put on a smile and pretend not to notice it. This is a big culture difference. I think there needs to be some leeway made on both sides. Japanese seem to see it so one sided. American military men are thousands of miles away from their families and feel the need to blow off some steam. The way we do this is not much different than the japanese do. They can get a little crazy as well. I have seen it. Most military in japan did not choose to be here, so some of them feel that why should they conform to japanese culture when they are not japanese and they did not choose to be here. While japanese feel they need to respect japanese culture. There is a big culture disconnect here that both sides need to fill.
If Okinawa was like it was before reversion there would not so many of these problems. You send a bunch of macho GIs overseas with no release and then you dont expect problems be real. I am married to an Okinawan but on my first tour I was not. You cant have girls dressed sexy running around and not expect to raise the libido of some young stud.
Capster78: I appreciate you being so forgiving of American military in terms of their behavior in Japan. It would be nice if your lenient perspective could be shared by more people. Despite your optimism, I personally don't feel that American military personnel should be excused for their actions. In regards to you saying...

"Most military in japan did not choose to be here, so some of them feel that why should they conform to japanese culture when they are not japanese and they did not choose to be here."

Yes. They didn't choose to be there and being away from their families is tough. However 1) They did choose the lifestyle of being in the military. International travel and integration into foreign culture comes as part of the job. Whether it be in Japan, Australia, or even war stricken deployment zones. A personal code of conduct is expected of the U.S. military and must be upheld as part of the job. There is no exception to this. A person doesn't get waived because they've had a tough week, or are away from their family, or need to unwind. They are responsible to their uniform by upholding to higher standards. 2) All military personnel are adults. Whether male or female. They had to reach a legal adult age or be waived as young as 17 as a consent of adult responsibility, before joining the military. My point being is even if you take away the uniform, they are expected to show a level of maturity. It doesn't matter if Americans are raised to be more casual or relaxed. It is just courtesy and common sense to recognize when you are a guest somewhere and to conduct yourself to better behavior. Even if not, again, acting a fool in public isn't tolerated in America either. If I saw a serviceman stumbling down the street and harassing people (even if in his native country, in this case the topic being about Americans), I would very well make an example out of him. Cause that person is being disrespectful to me, to himself, and to his uniform (and I use the term 'him' out of conversational habit. This conduct applies to uniformed women as well.)

The military does punish its own quite thoroughly and without leniency. So I don't have any complaints about such. My point is only to state that I do not feel that any empathy should be given to the ill behavior that a uniformed service member exhibits. Especially when they're guests in a foreign country. This young man whom is being prosecuted for rape. If he did in fact rape this woman, then I don't care what his race, branch of service, or country of origin is. He should be punished to the full extent of the law. Do I believe the woman invites lewd behavior? Perhaps she does. Yet whether she does or not, no setup, no matter how tempting or misleading, gives permission for rape. Then again, all of this is based on the assumption that a rape did in fact happen. If that young man did not rape that woman, I hope the evidence will do well to clear him of his accusations and that reprimands be made to clear him of the slander he's endured.

By the way. I saved this tidbit of info for last. Yet as far as my background goes, I am in fact a serving member of the USN. I am currently on deployment and will be serving in Japan (hence my interest in this forum) after I am excused from my deployment. So I do speak as a man held to the same standards of uniformed justice. I'm not militant in the idea of being opposed to military members enjoying their time in foreign countries. Actually, I encourage it and appreciate having the opportunity to be able to enjoy foreign cultures. I am one of the first people to get upset with the military when it 'restricts' its members from being able to mingle with the locals and limits their access. I am all for full access, interaction, and great fun. Yet if the woman says no, call it a night and sleep it off. Don't go drinking yourself into a stupor and passing out on the street. Stop lounging in a public fountain and splashing the passerbys. There are places for doing things like that and places for not. Know the difference and don't ruin it for the rest of us. Then discussions about whether the U.S. military should leave or not won't be much of an issue and we can enjoy the opportunites that it permits us for being welcomed.
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