By Jeff Jenkins
Recently, a US serviceman committed a heinous act in Okinawa prefecture of Japan. The man raped and killed a Japanese woman, then proceeded to dump her body in the woods, where it was later found by local authorities. An act of this caliber usually leaves people in shock, but not in Okinawa. Why? Because this is not the first time that a US serviceman has committed crimes like this on Japanese soil, especially in the Okinawa area due to the high military presence there. Oftentimes, when the military of the nation that you’re allied with is near you, you should feel safe, but the people of Okinawa cannot because nothing is being done to stop acts like this from happening in the first place. Two great examples would be the 1995 rape that happened on the beach of Okinawa, where three servicemen kidnapped a 12-year-old little girl and proceeded to physically and sexually abuse her. While all three of the servicemen were sent to prison, they did not truly receive a punishment equal to the crime that they committed, and while Okinawans did protest to have a greater punishment dealt towards the military, nothing happened. The other example of nothing being done is the recent car accident that happened when a drunk US serviceman hit a Japanese pedestrian. The event sparked a lot of debate between the people of Okinawa and US military bases. However, the only thing that happened was a short and temporary ban on alcohol that lasted for less than a week.
I don’t want to sound like I’m bashing my own military, but this is getting out of hand and it is becoming a trend where if a serviceman does something that they should never do, they only receive a slap on the wrist. Their actions do not only affect our standing in Japan, but around the world, and that gives our country a bad reputation.
Especially in this current era, where nuclear warfare and possibly WW3 is right at our front doors, we should not be betraying the trust and hospitality of our allies, but instead finding ways to ensure each others’ safety and prevention of another war. I hope that the US military and the people of Okinawa can come to a reasonable compromise, because if this continues to go on, I fear a much bigger problem will arise.