February 2008 Okinawa Rape Case Commentary

February 14, 2008

Well, this is big news in Japan now right. I feel I have to comment, but I also feel that things are moving too fast.

Can we assume that there is overwhelming evidence against the defendent because the US Ambassador to Japan has already apologized to the governor of Okinawa?

I am not saying that I don’t think in happened, on the contrary I’m saying there must be very incriminating evidence in the case if there are apologies and diplomacy going on only a few days after the incident.

Here are the facts of the case as I have heard them through various media in Japan:

  • This victim talked with the defendent and accepted a ride home on his motorcycle.
  • He (the suspect, Tyrone Hadnott) took her to his own house, she was lost and cried so he offered to take her home in her car.
  • At some point she answered a cell phone call from friends and said that she he needed help.
  • According to her, he raped her in the car. According to him, he held her down, touched her, and kissed her.
  • The defendent also claims he did not know that she was a minor.
  • The defendent had been married to a Japanese woman, but they are separated.
  • He speaks Japanese well enough for conversation.
  • Neighbors report hearing him say “Please” and her saying “No, go home,” and then hearing the sound of the car leaving.

I’ve been looking for an article that lists the “countless” crimes by servicemen against women in Okinawa. The only place I’ve found is a Mainich Japan article from Feb 13, 2008 which reads: (I’ve only listed the ones since the 1995 rape and abduction to which this case is often compared.)

* September 1995: Three U.S. military members abduct an elementary
schoolgirl in the northern part of the prefecture, keeping her captive
in their car before gang raping her. The crime sparks tremendous
anti-base sentiment within the prefecture and anti-base rallies are
held throughout Okinawa in October.

* July 2000: A U.S. Marine breaks into an Okinawa apartment,
performing indecent acts on the junior high schoolgirl sleeping inside.

* June 2001: A U.S. military member rapes a woman in her 20s in Chatan.

* May 2003: A U.S. Marine rapes a 19-year-old teenager in Kin.

* July 2005: An American serviceman indecently assaults an elementary schoolgirl in Okinawa.

* February 2008: A U.S. Marine is arrested for raping a junior high schoolgirl in Okinawa.

If this list is accurate, this is the 5th case since the 1995 case 12 and a half years ago.

I believe that people perceive that the number is higher. I want to reiterate that only one is too many, especially the three assaults against kids under 18, however there are bigger social problems in Japan than the U.S. military in Okinawa which don’t inspire nearly the fervor that this case has.

It’s a difficult situation and it’s still a little too recent and controversial for many of my Japanese friends to discuss it. Most people are watching with a little indignation and anger and seeing where it will go. I don’t see any big changes, save for a renewed promise to educate the military. Maybe men living on the bases will have to undergo some kind of mandatory program.

One remaining question is why it was so hard to find a list of the crimes committed by servicemen in Okinawa after 1995. I removed one case in which an elementary school student died in a car accident with military personnel because it was not a sex crime from the above list, but otherwise it seems accurate given my searches through Japanese news archives.

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