A 20-year-old woman missing since late April was found dead on May 16, 2016. The suspect is a former Marine who is a civilian employee of the US military at Kadena Airbase. Local police report that he confessed to the woman's rape and murder, and told them the location of her corpse. This crime comes barely six weeks after a US sailor assigned to Camp Schwab was arrested for the rape of a Japanese woman in a Naha hotel. Following that crime, Lt. General Lawrence Nicholson, III Marine Expeditionary Force commander, visited Prefectural Governor Onaga Takeshi to "express my deepest regret and remorse at the incident."

What General Nicholson called "the incident" is one of more than 500 crimes designated as heinous under Japanese law, including approximately 120 rapes, committed by US forces in Okinawa since it reverted from US military occupation to Japanese administration in 1972. As Takazato Suzuyo points out in her interview below, the 120 reported rapes are only "the tip of an iceberg" since most rapes in Okinawa and elsewhere go unreported.

The April rape and murder was committed on the eve of President Obama's highly publicized trip to Japan for the G-7 Summit and a visit to Hiroshima for a speech advocating nuclear weapons reductions. Shortly after Obama's arrival, he held a meeting with Prime Minister Abe Shinzo to discuss the rape and murder in Okinawa. During their stern-faced appearance before the cameras that followed, Abe told reporters "this is an unforgivable crime, and I have expressed our anger." Obama expressed his "deepest regrets."

Yet official efforts were already underway to downplay and trivialize this latest atrocity as "the Okinawa issue" (沖縄問題), and not the responsibility of the Japanese and US governments for imposing 73% of the American military presence in all of Japan on this small island prefecture.

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