John Glaser / AntiWar.com & David Hearst / The Guardian – 2012-05-14 00:30:22
US Soldier Convicted of Rape in
Imperial Installation in South Korea
John Glaser / AntiWar.com
(May 9, 2012) — A three-judge panel on Wednesday sentenced a US soldier to six years in prison for raping a South Korean teenager in September.
Pvt. Kevin Robinson was found guilty of raping the 17-year-old at her residence in Seoul after a night of drinking. He also was convicted of larceny for stealing the victimâ€™s laptop.
Unfortunately, this isnâ€™t uncommon in countries where thousands of US troops have been essentially permanently based. There was another high-profile case of rape last year in which “Pvt. Kevin Lee Flippin was sentenced to 10 years in prison for brutally raping another South Korean teenager.”
These two cases prompted widespread protests in South Korea and “led to calls for changes to the US-South Korea Status of Forces Agreement regarding the treatment of US servicemembers suspected of crimes,” since they are often granted immunity.
Japan is another classic case of this. Between 1972 and 2009, there were 5,634 criminal offenses committed by US servicemen [See story below] in Japan, including 25 murders, 385 burglaries, 25 arsons, 127 rapes, 306 assaults and 2,827 thefts. Japanese citizens have protested against US military presence on their land for decades.
Meanwhile, the locations for essentially permanent US military bases are multiplying in Asia , Latin America , and the Middle East .
 News from the Empire in South Korea: http://www.stripes.com/news/pacific/korea/soldier-gets-6-years-in-prison-for-rape-of-south-korean-teen-1.176713
 there were 5,634 criminal offenses committed by U.S. servicemen: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/07/okinawa-japan-military-tension
 Asia: http://www.google.com/url?q=http://news.antiwar.com/2012/01/26/us-to-reestablish-military-presence-in-philippines/&sa=U&ei=oyOrT-eBAoS68ASkmp0a&ved=0CAQQFjAA&client=internal-uds-cse&usg=AFQjCNGBdLRwnJz6tLClCYr9YdFOZ7ICaA
 Latin America: http://antiwar.com/blog/2012/05/08/promoting-stability-in-honduras-with-insidious-parallels-to-terrorism
 Middle East: http://www.antiwar.com/blog/2012/05/01/empire-in-the-middle-east-in-a-nutshell/
Second Battle of Okinawa Looms as
China’s Naval Ambition Grows
David Hearst / The Guardian
OKINAWA (March 7, 2011) — In a whitewashed bunker cut into the limestone of the southern tip of the island of Okinawa, the headquarters of the Imperial Japanese Navy prepared to make its last stand.
In June 1945, in one of the last, blood-soaked spasms of the second world war, a quarter of the civilian population died as US troops stormed the island.
Inside the bunker, imperial army troops pulled the pins of their grenades rather than surrender. One corner of the tunnel is peppered with shrapnel marks. The Japanese script on the wall still carries the defiant message: “American soldier Pigs! We will soon turn the battle around. Then we will reduce your numbers.” It frequently gets lost in translation. “We cover it up when the Americans come round here,” the guide said.
Today the island chain finds itself at the centre of a second battle of Okinawa. The military threat comes from China, intent on securing its sea lanes and pushing back America’s naval power into the Pacific.
Looking more vulnerable than it has been for decades, Japan is scrambling to redeploy troops and missiles from the north to an 800-mile chain of islands to the south, the gatekeeper to the Pacific. Seen from mainland Japan, 34 US military bases on Okinawa have gone from being a burden to a boon.
Everything changed last September when a Chinese trawler rammed a Japanese coastguard ship near the Senkaku islands, an uninhabited but disputed archipelago. When the coastguards arrested the Chinese captain, Beijing saw red. Four executives from Fujita, a Japanese construction company working in China, were detained. The export of Chinese rare earth minerals to Japan mysteriously ceased. Group tours of Chinese tourists to Japan were stopped.
Even after the captain was released without charge, China demanded an apology and compensation. It was only when America stepped in to say that the Senkaku islands were covered by the US-Japan security treaty that China fell silent.
For Yukio Okamoto, foreign policy adviser to the former prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, the lesson was clear: “The only deterrence we have with China is the United States because what China fears most is the deterioration of its relationship with the US. What the US said was that should there be any conflict between Japan and China, they would fulfil their obligations under the treaty. That was a big political statement and now we are realising that Japan’s security threat system works.”
Seiji Maehara, Japan’s foreign minister, did not mince his words. Speaking to the Guardian, he appealed to the EU not to resume arms exports to China. He said: “Lady Ashton, the high representative of the EU, mentioned that there was a possible review of the policy of banning arms exports to China and we have concerns about that. I sincerely hope the EU will look at the big picture and consider the peace and stability of the region.”
The big picture alarms him: China’s military capabilities have increased in strength by 20 times in the last 21 years. According to the Pentagon, Chinese defence expenditure is two to three times bigger than it announces publicly. “We believe that we have to protect the freedom of navigation at sea and with respect to the Chinese military build-up it is more than necessary,” Seiji Maehara, until Monday Japan’s foreign minister, told the Guardian.
China is refitting a former Soviet aircraft carrier, the Variag, and is building several carriers itself.its own. By 2020, defence analysts say, China will have three nuclear carrier task forces in the South China Sea.”They are just an awesome country. They have decided their naval strategy for 30 years,” Okamoto said, half in fear, half in admiration.
Mindful of the formidable threat from its mighty neighbour, the Japanese government has rapidly reversed a pre-election promise that it would distance itself from America. Yukio Hatoyama, the Democratic Party of Japan prime minister, vowed to cosy up to China by forming an east Asian community. He pledged to move US airbases and marines out of Okinawa. He lasted nine months.
Japan’s next prime minister, Naoto Kan, patched up relations with Washington, but only at the cost of rubbing more salt in the wound of Okinawa.
“People in Okinawa started to think yes, we can actually choose something else, we don’t have to bear to accept the military burden for ever,” said Yoichi Iha. A former mayor of Ginowan City, Iha knows exactly what that burden means.
Futenma air base runs through the middle of his town. Since the islands reverted from US to Japanese rule in 1972, there have been 42 crashes of US aircraft, 37 cases of falling parts, 328 emergency landings, 17 landing failures. For Londoners, it would be like having F22s landing in Hyde Park.
Then there are the rapes, muggings and burglaries committed by US servicemen — 5,634 criminal offences between 1972 and 2009. Among them are 25 murders, 385 burglaries, 25 arsons, 127 rapes, 306 assaults and 2,827 thefts. The worst was the rape of a 12-year-old schoolgirl in 1995.
“I don’t know why a marine will rob a taxi for just 2,000 yen [Â£15], or get drunk and break into a local house. But I know one thing. They never break into American houses,” Iha said.
This is “protection” that Japan has to pay for. If the plan to move the air base to a new site off the coast of Henoko bay in the north of the island was implemented, 60% of the costs of building a new base and of relocating 8,000 marines to Guam would be borne by the Japanese government.
But after Hatoyama’s broken promises, opposition is mounting to any plan that would keep US troops on the island. Okinawans finally want their sub-tropical island paradise back.
Yellow paper streamers of the peace protest movement flutter on the still-silent beach of Henoko bay, watched by a US surveillance camera. A message from the All Japan Teachers Association reads: “We will never allow you to build a military base here.”
The islanders are also getting wary of mainland Japan. For the first time in decades, the words “Yamatunchu”, meaning the mainlanders, and “Uchinachu”, the islanders, have begun to reappear in daily speech.
The Okinawans are not Japanese. They hark back to an age when the kingdom of the Ryukyu managed to serve China and Japan simultaneously. It was known as the “era of the great trade”.
Shuijo castle bears architectural testimony to that diplomatic balancing act. On the northern side of the main palace stands the banqueting hall where the Chinese delegation was housed. It is painted in Chinese dragon motifs. On the south side is the unpainted house for the Japanese samurai, complete with tatami mats, sliding doors and tea rooms.
Two competing cultures in one palace. Ryukyu so successfully courted Chinese trade that it was given the same status by the Ming emperors as Tibet. All arms on the island were forbidden.
Okinawa has paid a heavy price for its pacifism ever since. As one official of the prefectural government said: “You have the Battle of Britain, in which your airmen protected the British people. We had the Battle of Okinawa, in which the exact opposite happened. The Japanese army not only starved the Okinawans but used them as human shields. That dark history is still present today — and Japan and the US should study it before they decide what to do with next.”
This article was amended on 10 March 2011. The original said that four Japanese executives detained in China were working for the Fujitsu corporation. Owing to an editing error, it also said that the US marines who might be relocated from Okinawa to Guam numbered 800. These points have been corrected.
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