March 06, 2008

Selective Memory

James Gibney of The Atlantic writes that "U.S. military personnel have been raping Okinawans for the last 60-plus years," though graciously allowing that "the overwhelming majority of U.S. military personnel aren't sociopaths."

Gibney does not provide evidence of six-decades of continual sexual assault, but then, he wasn't shooting for accuracy, just overwrought hyperbole to justify his premise.

Writing in Asia Times Online, Chalmers Johnson notes that since the most infamous case in 1995, there have been precisely four similar incidents:

On June 29, 2001, a 24-year-old air force staff sergeant, Timothy Woodland, was arrested for publicly raping a 20-year-old Okinawan woman on the hood of a car.

On November 2, 2002, Okinawan authorities took into custody Marine Major Michael J Brown, 41 years old, for sexually assaulting a Filipina barmaid outside the Camp Courtney officer's club.

On May 25, 2003, Marine Military Police turned over to Japanese police a 21-year-old lance corporal, Jose Torres, for breaking a 19-year-old woman's nose and raping her, once again in Kin village.

In early July 2005, a drunken air force staff sergeant molested a 10-year-old Okinawan girl on her way to Sunday school. He at first claimed to be innocent, but then police found a photo of the girl's nude torso on his cell phone.

Not including the case dismissed this past week, that brings us a total of five recorded cases in the past 13 years.

By way of comparison, if Mr. Gibney really did have an interest in "The Price of Empire" in Okinawa, he could perhaps spend some time researching the number of Okinawan citizens either directly killed by the Japanese, used as human shields, or were ordered to commit suicide by the Japanese military during the Battle of Okinawa during the Second World War.

Estimates range into the high thousands.

I somewhat doubt, however, that this particular reality suits Mr. Gibney's preferred narrative, where American soldiers are the preferred oppressors.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at March 6, 2008 01:04 PM

Might be interesting to research the number of actual rapes during the Rape of Nanking and the number of Korean "comfort women" enslaved.

Posted by: Charlie (Colorado) at March 6, 2008 01:16 PM

Don't forget the tens of thousands of "comfort women", enslaved by the Japanese to provide sex to their soldiers.

Posted by: pst314 at March 6, 2008 02:44 PM

One is "random".
Two is a crime wave.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at March 6, 2008 05:53 PM

On June 29, 2001, a 24-year-old air force staff sergeant, Timothy Woodland, was arrested for publicly raping a 20-year-old Okinawan woman on the hood of a car.

This one was thrown out, if I remember correctly.

I was in the Marines in Okinawa and now I'm in mainland Japan as a civilian working in other capacities, so we really feel the sting of this crap.

One interesting thing that most people don't know is that most anti-US sentiment in Okinawa is from mainlanders who are transplants or visiting Okinawa to protest. Okinawans benefit an enormous amount by the US presence; there is a revolving door of young people with a disposable income, and the jobs on the bases are the most coveted on the island. I had a girlfriend down there who was on a waiting list for 2 years to work at the bar on Tori Station (Army base). Okinawan landlords know the BAH (housing money that service members get) maximum, and charge service members the max (because coming from the government). Landowners surrounding the bases also get "rent" money for their property. A few years ago when some of Tori Station was being returned to the Okinawans, the land owners protested. It was far more lucrative to get rent from the US Army than to use the land for farmland.

Okinawans might not be huge fans of the US presence, but they understand the benefits. It's also important to know that while Okinawans are "Japanese", most consider themselves Okinawans first, and they have no particular love for mainlanders, whom they refer to as "naicha". It's not a term of endearment.

Posted by: paully at March 6, 2008 06:43 PM

But where are we going to re-deploy to? I was under the impression that Okinawa was a crucial base in the Middle-East.

Posted by: Techie at March 7, 2008 11:24 AM

5 in 13 years is still way, way, too many. Especially when you consider that there are probably quite a few more that go unreported (always the case for rape and assault.)

Every few years, when another incident like this pops up in Okinawa, I just think, "Oh, no, not again."

Saying we're nowhere near as bad as the Japanese Imperial Army is, well, obvious, isn't it? I mean we nuked Japan twice to exterminate that menace.

We need to continue to enforce our zero tolerance policy in this regard (I think our military is handling it pretty darn well, actually), but, sorry, even when lefties use this as an excuse to smear the entire military, the best response is probably to simply say, "You're right. It IS horrible, it cannot be tolerated, and we should punish the hell out of the perpetrators, as we always do."

Posted by: notropis at March 8, 2008 02:23 AM