With the recent spat of criminal and alledged criminal acts committed by US Forces Japan on Okinawa and Mainland Japan, I think that I should renew the Black Tokyo Forum discussions on the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), the Okinawa-mondai (problem), and the “ura” behind the scenes or underground happenings in Japan.  

I am sure that many BT’ers remember the Woodland rape case. Here is an excerpt from Time Magazine: 

Okinawa hates America, and Okinawa loves America. Okinawa is in fact so American that it can appear deceptively like home to the 25,203 U.S. servicemen stationed on its 38 U.S. military facilities.

Tourists and dream seekers from the Japanese mainland flock to the archipelago’s 60 tropical islands–called Okinawa, like the main island–precisely for its slice of red, white and blue. The biggest draws, especially for Japanese women, are the real live Americans. Amejo is local slang for girls who love Americans, but amejo can be found anywhere in Japan where Americans hang out. However, ground zero for amejo and their kokujo subculture is Okinawa.

When a suspect is black and from the military, people here assume he must be guilty,” says Annette Eddie-Callagain, an African-American lawyer. “Meanwhile, whenever something happens, the rest of us think, Oh, please, don’t let him be black.” Eddie-Callagain and two Japanese lawyers represent Woodland, who has pleaded not guilty and argues that the sex was consensual. Eddie-Callagain admits the politically charged atmosphere and the Japanese judicial system stack the odds against her client. “Here you’re guilty until proved innocent,” says Eddie-Callagain, who returned to Okinawa in 1995 to set up an independent practice after leaving the Air Force. “In Japan the criminal-justice system is run by prosecutors,” she says. “Defense lawyers are just bystanders.””  (Source)

The current case in Okinawa (video) deals with a Marine originally charged with kidnapping and rape of a 14 year old girl.

Under the Japanese Penal Code, sexual contact with girls aged below 13 constitutes rape regardless of whether they consent to such acts.

The charges were dropped by the girl and the prosecutors (VERY RARE) but the US Marine Corps will try (and rightly convict) the Marine under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. 

Be sure to submit additional comments on this topic at the BT Forums. I will submit updates and BT’ers comments here on the BT Blog.