No American apology after blacked-out sex crimes in Japan

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Published 10 July 2024 at 11.16

Foreign. US Tokyo Ambassador Rahm Emanuel stopped short of “regretting” the cover-up of the two rapes committed by US military personnel on the Japanese island of Okinawa last year, but did not apologize. Now anger is growing against the US troop presence in Japan.

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The news hit like a bomb late last month when it emerged that US soldiers had been charged for sexual abuse months earlier and that the whole thing was covered up both by American and Japanese authorities.

Both cases were first reported in local media at the end of June. In an arrest made in March, a member of the US Air Force was charged with kidnapping and sexually assaulting a teenager, and in May, a US Marine was arrested for attempted rape that resulted in the injury of a girl. Additional details about the alleged victims were not released.

The cases are politically sensitive because they reminded many Japanese of a 1995 rape, when a 12-year-old girl was gang-raped by three American soldiers, sparking massive protests against the American presence in Japan.

The rape led to a 1996 accord between Tokyo and Washington to close a key US airbase. However, the agreement has been difficult to fulfill due to protests from the population of the site designated to replace the old airbase.

Rahm Emanuel said he deeply regretted what happened to the affected individuals, their families and their community. However, he refrained from apologizing, writes the Associated Press.

– Of course, you have to let the criminal process take its course. But that doesn't mean that on a human level you can't regret what happened, he said.

– We have to do better, the ambassador noted, saying that the American military's standards and procedures for training and training the troops on the this area “just didn't work”.

The US and Japan will now increase their transparency with the public under procedures to be drawn up at a meeting later this month in Tokyo.

Even Japan's minister in charge, Yoshimasa Hayashi, has promised that the government will stop covering up suspected wrongdoing among US military personnel on Okinawa, while protecting the victims' privacy.

About 50,000 US troops are stationed in Japan as a result of a surrender treaty Japan signed with the US after being bombed with nuclear weapons by the superpower at the end of World War II.

The agreement basically looks like the re-debated DCA agreement, which gives US military personnel “unimpeded access” to Swedish territorial waters, territory and airspace and which contains several writings that make it possible for dark crimes such as the US military committed against the civilian population in Sweden. Swedes are also deprived of the right to claim damages from Americans and their subcontractors, according to the agreement.

Unlike Japan, the Swedish government for some reason signed the agreement voluntarily.