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Okinawa: What should be done about the recent incidents involving off-duty U.S. servicemen in Okinawa?

by Michael Bradley

Eva Wyatt
Student, 28 (American)
I think that something should be done to prevent further incidents (such as the alleged Oct. 16 rape of a Japanese woman by two U.S. servicemen and Nov. 2 home intrusion and assault). At the same time, as the spouse of a marine, I don’t want to get punished for the mistakes of others.

Sangse Suh
Telephone operator, 43 (South Korean)
There are criminals everywhere. Even Japanese people commit crimes such as rape, abductions, murder and so on. It’s not fair to focus on these crimes just because they were carried out by members of the American military.

Moe Uyehara
Student, 19 (Japanese)
There is now a big divide between us Okinawans and the Americans. TV news gives the impression that everyone in the U.S. military is bad, and it makes me sad to think of my friends who are in the U.S. forces. But I do think these incidents are unacceptable and the suspects should be tried in Japanese courts.

Owen Phillips
Teacher, 46 (Welsh)
I think any serviceman who does wrong off-base should be treated as if he were a Japanese citizen. This cuts both ways: On the one hand, there should be no immunity because they are Americans; on the other hand, their punishment shouldn’t be any more severe than if they were Japanese.

Marina Higa
Student, 27 (Japanese)
I felt sad and angry about these attacks because Okinawans have no way of stopping them. I don’t think the curfew (imposed Oct. 19) is working — either the servicemen find loopholes or just ignore it. It’s time the Japanese government stood up for the Okinawans instead of always backing the Americans.

Miyako Kawabata
Homemaker, 46 (Japanese)
These people are not regular citizens — they work for their government. They are representing their country and, as such, we should expect higher standards of behavior from them. So if they do commit crimes, their punishment should be tougher.

Interviews were conducted in Ginowan and Nishihara, central Okinawa. Interested in gathering views in your neighborhood? E-mail community@japantimes.co.jp