National

U.S. to review Okinawa training procedures after report reveals sessions downplayed military crimes, disparaged locals

by Jon Mitchell

Special To The Japan Times

The head of the U.S. Marine Corps in Japan said Saturday that training procedures will be reviewed in the wake of a report last week that revealed that orientation sessions for new recruits contained derogatory statements against Okinawans.

“The content of the OCAT (Okinawa Culture Awareness Training) brief we will continue to review,” Lt. Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson told reporters during a news conference at U.S. Marine Corps Camp Foster in Okinawa. “I welcome open communications with the Okinawan community and if we’re saying something in there that you think is unfair, then let’s have a discussion.”

OCAT lectures are mandatory for all U.S. Marines and their dependants arriving on the island.

However, scripts and slides obtained under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that OCAT lectures dated 2014 and 2016 included statements that accused Okinawans of having “double-standards” and of being “more emotional than logical.”

They also linked military crimes to “gaijin power” and stated that, as far as Okinawans are concerned, “It pays to complain. Anywhere offense can be taken, it will be used.”

On Thursday, the prefecture’s governor, Takeshi Onaga, said the training was, “a prime example of (the U.S. military’s) arrogant attitude (toward Okinawans).”

Nicholson announced the review of OCAT lectures in reply to reporters’ questions at the end of a news conference outlining new regulations for Okinawa-based service members. Among the rules are a midnight curfew and a ban on consuming alcohol outside bases. The restrictions are an attempt to quell public fury in Okinawa following the alleged rape of a woman in Naha by a U.S. sailor in March and the alleged murder of a woman by a former marine in the city of Uruma last month.