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SECURITY > Okinawa

Sexual misconduct involving Marines in Okinawa rampant

TBS’s “Hodo Tokushu” news program took up what it called “rampant” sex crimes perpetrated by Marines in Okinawa, highlighting two sets of U.S. military records on sexual offenses from 2015 to 2016 obtained by freelance journalist Jon Mitchell – one on courts-martial prepared by the USMC headquarters and the other by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. According to Mitchell, a total of 59 Okinawa-based Marines have been imprisoned for sexual misconduct since January 2015, with victims reportedly including not only women, but men, children, and even animals. Some of the perpetrators reportedly “escaped” from criminal penalties by choosing to leave the military voluntarily. A local anti-base activist expressed rage at the content of the records, arguing for the importance of making these sexual crimes public so as to deter further offenses by U.S. personnel.

 

In reply to the broadcaster’s query about whether the two sets of records showed that the U.S. military is not a “good neighbor” to the Okinawa people, the USMC said that it is committed to holding all personnel to the “highest possible standards” and that it strongly encourages all Marines to report all instances of sexual misconduct in order to “hold offenders appropriately accountable.” It also underscored that all Marines are “absolutely dedicated to being the best possible neighbor.” A TBS reporter said in conclusion that the figures cited in the two sets of U.S. documents may be only the “tip of the iceberg,” urging the U.S. military to disclose all records of sexual offenses committed by the members of the military community in the island prefecture. He also called for the U.S. military to conduct a review of court martial proceedings since its lengthy investigative process has discouraged the victims of sexual crimes from cooperating, which in some instances resulted in lenient punishment of the offenders.

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