Thousands in Okinawa protest alleged rape by U.S. sailor

Kyodo

The Okinawa Prefectural Assembly passed a resolution and issued a statement Tuesday protesting the alleged rape of a Japanese tourist by a U.S. serviceman this month and demanding the U.S. military enforce discipline.

“We cannot help but say that the U.S. military’s efforts and instructions have not been effective, and we feel deep resentment,” the assembly said, noting it has repeatedly called for thorough measures to prevent crimes by U.S. personnel from recurring.

It also demanded a fundamental review of the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement, which defines the legal status of U.S. military personnel in Japan, and the consolidation and reduction of U.S. military bases in the prefecture.

Earlier this month, local police arrested sailor Justin Castellanos, 24, of U.S. Marine Corps Camp Schwab in Nago, on suspicion of taking a tourist to his room after finding her asleep in the corridor of a hotel in the prefectural capital and raping her there.

The case has sparked another round of outrage on the island, where residents have long been frustrated with crimes committed by U.S. service members, especially the infamous gang rape of a 12-year-old child in September 1995.

On Monday, thousands of people gathered near the construction site of a U.S. replacement base near Camp Schwab in the Henoko coastal area to protest the alleged rape.

“Incidents and accidents never cease to exist as long as there are bases here,” Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine told the protesters, repeating his opposition to the relocation project. “If the U.S. military were a good neighbor, these kinds of incidents wouldn’t happen. How long do we have to keep holding these gatherings?”

The area is the site of the replacement facility being built for the transfer of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan in south of the island.

Sachiko Kudeken, 64, took part in the protest with her 1-year-old grandchild. She said public anger had reached the “boiling point.”

Suzuyo Takazato, head of a local support group for rape victims, said at the protest that women in postwar Okinawa have long been victims of sexual violence.

“Even if the U.S. military enforced discipline and took steps to prevent a recurrence, violence against women hasn’t been addressed,” she said.

Several days after the seaman’s arrest, Lt. Gen. Lawrence Nicholson, top commander of U.S. forces in Okinawa Prefecture, apologized to Gov. Takeshi Onaga and expressed his “deepest regret and remorse” over the incident, which is being investigated by local authorities.

Okinawa hosts the bulk of U.S. military facilities in Japan, and residents have been demanding a reduction and cancellation of the Futenma project ever since the 1995 rape.

  • Bernadette Soubirous

    TOKYO (TR) – Tokyo Metropolitan Police have arrested two Turkish nationals currently applying for refugee status for allegedly raping a woman in Kita Ward, reports the Sankei Shimbun (Feb. 22).

    At approximately 12:30 a.m. on December 27 of last year, Onder Pinarbasi, 22, and a 16-year-old boy allegedly took the woman, aged in her 30s, to a public toilet near JR Akabane Station and sexually assaulted her. The suspects also stole 9,000 yen in cash from the victim.

    Pinarbasi, who has been charged with rape and robbery, claims the boy committed both crimes. The boy admits to onlyl the robbery charge. “I did not force myself upon her,” he is quoted by police in denying the rape accusation, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun (Feb. 22).

  • Bernadette Soubirous

    TOKYO (TR) – Tokyo Metropolitan Police have arrested two Turkish nationals currently applying for refugee status for allegedly raping a woman in Kita Ward, reports the Sankei Shimbun (Feb. 22).

    At approximately 12:30 a.m. on December 27 of last year, Onder Pinarbasi, 22, and a 16-year-old boy allegedly took the woman, aged in her 30s, to a public toilet near JR Akabane Station and sexually assaulted her. The suspects also stole 9,000 yen in cash from the victim.

    Pinarbasi, who has been charged with rape and robbery, claims the boy committed both crimes. The boy admits to onlyl the robbery charge. “I did not force myself upon her,” he is quoted by police in denying the rape accusation, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun (Feb. 22).

  • Bernadette Soubirous

    The NPA defines violent crimes as those involving murder, robbery, arson or rape. According to the report, foreigners were arrested in 15 murder cases, 39 robberies, five arson attacks and 19 rapes in the first half of the year. The number of foreigners arrested for violent crimes jumped 52 percent to 88. Among the more notable incidents were:

    A May murder in which a Korean man strangled his girlfriend, also a Chinese national, in a hotel.

    A Thai landscape gardener in Ibaraki Prefecture who murdered his boss and buried him on the premises of the company in May.

    A Chinese exchange student who in May killed his Japanese girlfriend and her father with a knife, and also attacked the woman’s mother.

    A Chinese woman who stabbed to death her husband, who is also Chinese, during an argument about getting divorced.

    A South Korean woman, who was the victim of abuse from her Japanese husband, stabbed him in the left side of the chest in June, leading to a charge of attempted murder.

  • tisho

    Do they actually care about the rape, or are they just using this incident to push for their agenda? Rape crimes are happening in Japan almost every day, why are they not protesting against any of it? Not that i don’t want the US base to get out of Okinawa and Japan, but their protest is very disingenuous.

    • GH08

      Probably because servicemen are generally held to a higher standard than street thugs.

      • Kevin

        What makes you think ‘street thugs’ are rapists? Rapists come from all walks of life and many are upstanding citizens; rape knows no boundaries.

    • 151E

      For some reason people always respond more vehemently to same wrongs when committed by outsiders.

      • Blair

        especially when those outsiders are here to protect and are protected by a jurisdiction “outside” of the native community which they have perpetrated their crime against within that community

      • 151E

        Yes, understandably even more so then.

      • Blair

        especially when those outsiders are here to protect and are protected by a jurisdiction “outside” of the native community which they have perpetrated their crime against within that community

    • Testerty

      Ok. If you think rapes by American soldiers in Japan is not a big deal, then move the massive US base to your neighborhood. The Okinawan will thank you.

    • Testerty

      Ok. If you think rapes by American soldiers in Japan is not a big deal, then move the massive US base to your neighborhood. The Okinawan will thank you.

    • johninokinawa

      Okinawa has been occupied by the US military since 1945. The bases are huge – especially Kadena, they take up much needed space and get in the way. This damages the economy. Land that could be used for tourism is used by the US military.

      Okinawans are sick of the situation and are rather more sensitive than they would be otherwise. It’s not difficult to understand why. Their land has been ripped from under their feet. Tourism is booming in Okinawa and the US bases are holding down the economy.

      Japanese tourists are scaredy cats and rape incidents like this one cause hundreds to cancel bookings because they think “Okinawa is a dangerous place.”

      Individually, Okinawans have nothing against Americans. What they cannot tolerate is the huge presence of US military in this tiny island.

      Time and time again promises have been made that the US military will leave, move to Guam, bases will be handed back and land returned.

      It hasn’t happened and it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen.

      • tisho

        They should be angry only at the Japanese government for so obviously treating them like second class pond life, not at the American base itself. They should also be angry at the mainland Japanese for viewing them as second class too, since every survey shows that the majority of Japanese agree with the bases being in Okinawa, which is why the government have little pressure to move them out of there. I don’t see any protests in front of the government, do you see any?

      • Kevin

        This is not quite accurate since the American bases contribute a lot to the local economy – we don’t hear much about the Okinawans who will lose their business and livelihoods if the US base went.

      • Kevin

        This is not quite accurate since the American bases contribute a lot to the local economy – we don’t hear much about the Okinawans who will lose their business and livelihoods if the US base went.

      • AbsenteePennant

        This is the crux of the problem. WW2 ended 70 frickin years ago. Way past time for the US and its zio-empire forces to get the hell out.

    • Bá Thành Hoàng Khải

      Because rape crimes arent really a thing in the land of the rising sun.

      • Philosopher

        Are you being sarcastic?

    • Bá Thành Hoàng Khải

      Because rape crimes arent really a thing in the land of the rising sun.

    • blondein_tokyo

      I don’t think service members should be vilified, and I agree that people are going to use this to push a certain agenda. But I think we should be supportive of their right to protest. I personally don’t care if its a service member or not – rape is abhorrent, and protests will encourage people to take it more seriously in general.

      Quite often when someone is accused of rape you see people flocking to defend the guy and vilify the woman, and/or engage in victim-blaming. I’m not seeing any of that here, and to me, that makes this protest a positive thing.

    • TomokoHasegawa

      It’s not rape or harassment if Japanese men (of a certain caste, like “Salaryman” or “Underworld member”) do it. Then it’s just “traditional culture”.
      It isn’t very well known that almost all Japanese porn actresses are forced into their profession – most of them have debts with the Yakuza-owned loan companies (because they spending too much on Western luxury brands, for example), or other problems with Japan’s underworld government, and are “offered” a way out of their debt by partaking in porn (if they have the looks).
      I know of an example where a Japanese woman crashed her car into the car of Yakuza member – the rear bumper was damaged) – and she had to pay for it with her body.
      All this happens on a daily basis in a so-called “1st world country of law”.

  • GBR48

    It’s always good to see outrage against sexual assaults on women, but when it only happens in specific cases it looks like gross hypocrisy and cheap opportunism. Double standards in such cases are shameful.

    Japan is notorious for not taking the assault, vicitimisation, stalking, domestic abuse and rape of Japanese women by Japanese men seriously enough.

    Yes, it is an atrocity, but it is an atrocity every time it happens, not just when it is an American accused of doing it.

    • Pink Floyd

      It’s xenophobia, women are raped day in day out in Japan and the police are completely incompetent and are not willing to investigate….unless of course it’s commited by a NJ in which case it’s headline news.

    • Ryan Clarke

      Nice try to pass the buck. They should be exonerated because they’re US soliders? If Chinese soldiers were stationed here and abused the locals, there would be outrage – and that would be absolutely justified.

      • Kevin

        GBR48 is right, rape is always an outrage whether it is committed by an outsider or a local. If rape is really the issue they were concerned with, why aren’t they protesting about rising incidences of rape among the population as a whole?! Rape should not be used as a political tool or an expression of xenophobia.

      • Philosopher

        Is the rape rate rising in Japan? I’ve searched and haven’t found any statistics that show that.
        I do agree with you that Japanese people should be protesting about rape in general, especially sexual assault reports being ignored by the police.

      • Pink Floyd

        There are no real stats because many rape cases are not even investigated by the police, most women are not taken seriously and accused of timewasting, in fact assaults and rapes are through the roof in Japan as is stalking and groping.. you won’t hear about it unless its a NJ person that does it.

      • Philosopher

        I’ve heard stories. How do you know the rates of sexual assaults are increasing or that they’re high if there are no statistics?

      • Kessek

        ” Rape should not be used as a political tool or an expression of xenophobia.”
        Tell that to Americans.

      • Kevin

        ‘Tell that to America’?
        What does that mean? Is America complaining about Japanese rapes and being xenophobic towards Okinawans? Not sure what your point is.

      • Ryan Clarke

        Ironic considering many whites are citing the refugee rapes in Europe as a unique case that requires a political solution. Perhaps the same applies here.

      • Kevin

        GBR48 is right, rape is always an outrage whether it is committed by an outsider or a local. If rape is really the issue they were concerned with, why aren’t they protesting about rising incidences of rape among the population as a whole?! Rape should not be used as a political tool or an expression of xenophobia.

      • Philosopher

        I don’t think GBR48 is excusing US soldiers in any rapes, alleged or admitted. All rape is abhorrent and should be treated thus by the authorities.

      • Ryan Clarke

        Rape amongst the local population only has so many solutions. Abuse by foreign soldiers in your territory has a simple solution that can be implemented.

      • Philosopher

        I don’t think GBR48 is excusing US soldiers in any rapes, alleged or admitted. All rape is abhorrent and should be treated thus by the authorities.

    • Blair

      It’s an atrocity when committed by someone who is here as a protector and when the perpetrator is not held accountable under Japanese law but is protected under American jurisdiction, even though the crime was perpetrated in Japan and against a Japanese citizen. Protectors are held to a higher standard

      • blondein_tokyo

        I agree with the first part of what you said. US forces have a particular responsibility, and their behavior should be held to a higher standard than the general population. But this guy isn’t going to be protected. He’ll go to trail in a Japanese court, and then to a Japanese prison. After that incident in 1995, the SOFA agreement was changed so that in crimes considered to be violent, such as rape and murder, the suspect would be turned over to the Japanese authorities for prosecution under Japanese law. The only help this guy will get from the Marines is a lawyer, which he is entitled to.
        Nope, this guy is going to be in a Japanese prison, sitting on a tatami mat, eating fish and drinking miso soup for a few years at least. I’m hoping for more, but rape sentences here are often a joke. I’d actually rather he be charged in a military court, because he’d probably get a longer sentence.

      • Blair

        I apologise for the error. Thanks for the update

  • AbsenteePennant

    The over-arching question here is why a US occupation has lasted 70 frickin years. Japan doesn’t need the zio-globalist empire America has become – it can handle its own defense. These demonstrations should focus on the real issue of this insanely outdated post WW2 occupation. Millions of Japanese should be out there, demanding the US get out now.

  • Kevin

    Interesting to see all protesters in the picture are elderly. Can anyone explain why there are no young people?

  • Kevin

    Interesting to see all protesters in the picture are elderly. Can anyone explain why there are no young people?

  • Philosopher

    Thank you for the links, although I’ve read those articles before. While they make me very sad and angry, they don’t provide any statistics that show an increase in rapes. It’s distressing that rape happens and very frustrating to hear stories of victims not reporting those rapes, especially when it’s because they don’t believe they’ll be heard.

    I’m not sure that you meant to say that the rate of sexual assaults is increasing in Japan. While there is no evidence of this, it’s counter-productive to say so. Perhaps, we’d both be better served putting our energies towards getting more victims to report and getting the police to do their job properly. Also, helping to decrease the rate by educating people about affirmative consent would also be productive.

  • AbsenteePennant

    Unfortunately it says that the Japanese have been cowed and brainwashed for too long. Time to grow a pair. Hopefully Trump’s presidency will include a pull out as he seems to be hinting along those lines. At any rate, where did this insane idea come from, that by winning a war a country has a right to occupy it forever? Trump’s gift is his great commonsense.