The geopolitical implications of (another) American rape arrest in Japan
News On Japan via Washington Post -- Oct 18
Japanese police have arrested two U.S. sailors in Okinawa on charges of raping a local woman, to which one of the Americans reportedly later confessed. The incident is sadly not the first of its kind on the densely populated Japanese island, where a large U.S. military base houses 15,000 to 20,000 Marines and 10,000 Air Force personnel. The backlash is snowballing in Japan, where the Okinawa base has long been a source of national political controversy, one with larger geopolitical meaning for the United States and Japan.
The Okinawa governor hinted at the potential implications of the alleged rape when he told Japanese media that, in response to the incident, he'd complained directly to the U.S. military, U.S. Consulate and Japanese prime minister's office. For many Okinawans, past crimes by U.S. service members, particularly rapes, have been part of something much larger than just the individual crimes.
Opposition to the U.S. base on Okinawa has been a big deal in Japan for years. "Local newspapers in Okinawa, which are strongly anti-base, give intense coverage to crimes by American military personnel and their families," the New York Times explained. It's also about the base itself, which is in the middle of a dense residential neighborhood and surrounded by schools. The recent arrival of new American aircraft, the tiltrotor V-22 Osprey, which locals believe is too dangerous, provoked "unexpectedly fierce opposition." And maybe it shouldn't be surprising that this historically nationalist society isn't crazy about an enormous foreign military presence on its soil.
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