As a 29 year veteran of the US Army, I first want
to deeply apologize for the horrific criminal actions in the past two months on
Okinawa by the perpetrators of a murder, two rapes and injuries caused by
drunken driving by US military personnel assigned in Okinawa.
While these criminal acts do NOT reflect the
attitudes of 99.9% of the US military in Okinawa, the fact that 70 years after
the end of World War II, there are huge US military bases with tens of thousands
of young US military personnel living in Okinawa makes for a dangerous
The mission of the military is to resolve
international conflict with violence.
Military personnel are trained to react to
situations with violent actions. These violent actions can be used in personal
life as military personnel attempt to resolve personal problems within the
family, friends or strangers with violence. Violence is used to resolve anger,
dislike, hate, and the feeling of superiority toward others.
Not only are communities around US military bases
affected by this violence as we have seen erupt in the past two months in
Okinawa, but violence occurs on military bases between members of the military
community and families. Domestic violence within military families that are
living on and off military bases is high.
Sexual assault and rape of military personnel by
other military personnel is extraordinarily high. Estimates are that one in
three women in the US military will be sexually assaulted or raped during the
short time of six years that she is in the US military. The Department of
Defense estimates that over 20,000 military are sexually assaulted each year,
women and men. Rates of prosecution for these crimes are very low, with only 7
percent of the cases reported resulting in prosecution of the perpetrator.
Yesterday, Suzuyo Takazato of Okinawan Women
Against Military Violence, an organization that has been documenting the
violence of US military in Okinawa since World War II -- now 28 pages long -- took
us to pay our respects to the memory of 20-year-old Rina Shimabukuro. We
traveled to the area near Camp Hansen where her body was located by the
admission of the perpetrator of her rape, assault and murder, a US military
contractor and a former US Marine assigned in Okinawa. By his own admission to
the Japanese police, he said that he had driven for several hours looking for a
As we know from many other rapes, usually the
rapist has raped many women -- and I suspect this perpetrator is not only a serial
rapist but perhaps a serial killer. I urge Japanese police to check their
reports of missing women in Okinawa during his Marine assignment here, and I
also urge US military and civilian police to check for missing women around the
military bases in the United States where he was assigned.
These criminal acts rightfully put a strain on
US-Japan relations. During his recent visit to Japan, the President of the
United States Obama expressed his "deep regrets" for the rape and murder of a
young girl only three years older than his oldest daughter.
Yet President Obama did not express regrets for the continued US occupation
of 20 percent of the land of Okinawa 70 years after World War II, nor for the
environmental destruction of lands used by US military are evidenced by the
recent release of 8,500 pages of reports of pollution, chemical spills and
on US military bases, most of which was never reported to
the Japanese government...
the 1998-2015 period, leaks totaled almost 40,000 liters of jet fuel, 13,000
liters of diesel and 480,000 liters of sewage. Of the 206 incidents noted
between 2010 and 2014, 51 were blamed on accidents or
human error; only 23 were reported to the Japanese authorities. The
year 2014 saw the highest number of accidents: 59 -- only two of which were
reported to Tokyo."
The very unbalanced, unequal Status of Forces
Agreement (SOFA) allows the U.S. military to pollute Okinawan lands and not be
required to report the pollution to local authorities nor be required to clean
up the damage. The SOFA does not require the US military to report criminal
acts committed on US military bases thereby hiding the numbers of violent acts
Now is the perfect time for the government of Japan
to demand to have the SOFA renegotiated to force the US government to accept its
responsibilities for damages done by the US military to its people and its
The citizens of Okinawa and the elected leaders of
Okinawa have accomplished an unprecedented event -- the suspension, and hopefully,
the end of construction of the runways at Henoko. What you have done to
challenge both your national government and the US government's attempt to build
another military base in the beautiful waters of Ora Bay is remarkable.
I have just visited activists on Jeju Island, South
Korea where their eight-year campaign to prevent the construction of a naval base in
their pristine waters was not successful. Their efforts were NOT supported by
the prefecture government, and now 116 of them and five village organizations are
being sued for damages from costs incurred by the slow down of contraction by
daily protests that closed the entrance gates to construction trucks.
Again, I want to express my deepest apologies for
the actions of a few individuals in the US military for the criminal acts that
have occurred, but more importantly tell you that many of us in the United
States will continue our struggle to end the 800 US military bases the US has
around the world. When compared to only 30 military bases that all the other
nations of the world have in lands not their own, the US desire to use the lands
of other peoples for its war machine must be stopped and we commit ourselves to
continue to work toward that goal.