ASAHI SHIMBUN, KYODO (Japan) THE GUARDIAN (UK), U.S. ARMY (USA)
Two U.S. Navy sailors in Okinawa, have been accused of raping a Japanese woman, reports the Asahi Shimbun. The case comes amidst American military efforts to combat sex crimes following several high-profile cases over the past decade.
The two 23-year-old sailors allegedly perpetrated the rape after they had been drinking off the base. Japanese Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto said: “This is an extremely egregious and vile incident. It goes way beyond the limits of what is tolerable. I feel that there must have been a failure in how the U.S. military trained its personnel.”
According to the Asahi Shimbun, the alleged perpetrators have been identified as Seaman Christopher Browning and Petty Officer 3rd Class Skyler Dozierwalker, of the Naval air station in Fort Worth Texas. They are accused of raping a woman as she walked home from work on Oct. 16.
“I feel such anger that my body is shaking,” said Tsuyoshi Gibu, the mayor of Kin, where 60% of the U.S. military bases of Okinawa are located.
Coincidentally, at the time of the attack, he was in Tokyo lobbying the central government on issues concerning the U.S. military presence in Okinawa, including asking for new measures to prevent crime by U.S. military personnel.
The U.S. military has had a long history of conflict with the local Japanese population. Last month, large numbers of Okinawans turned out to protest the placement of 12 Osprey vertical-takeoff helicopters at Futenma air base, which is in the center of a large town, Ginowa. Okinawans believe the helicopters are dangerous, Kyodo reports.
The U.S. presence dates back to the end of World War II, and the Okinawa base is the most important in the western Pacific. The Japanese government depends on the U.S. military for much of its defense.
The current standoff between Japan and China over the Senkoku/Diaoyu islands, 410 kilometers (250 miles) from Okinawa, has only increased Japan’s reliance on the support of the U.S.
There have been seven rapes in Okinawa by U.S. soldiers since 1960, according to the Guardian. In 1995 a 12-year-old was kidnapped as she walked on the beach and gang-raped by American soldiers, sparking outrage that had lingered for many locals.
In a move to stave off potential problems in Okinawa and “change a culture within the U.S. Army,” special training on sexual harassment and assault has been given to soldiers based in Okinawa, the U.S. Army website reported in September.
The program “encourages all soldiers to get involved before an assault occurs,” the army site reported. No training has yet been given to Navy sailors.