Recent scandals involving US military personnel have been widely covered by the international media. Instead of being the “bulwark of American democracy” and the “defenders of peace and security” American bases are rapidly becoming the symbol of lawlessness and crime, in spite of the vocal criticism that has been voiced by various members of the international community in various countries around the world and numerous protests local residents hold in a desperate bid to change the situation.
Yet, less than a week ago a new wave of protests swept the US embassy in Japan, after the arrest of yet another American soldier who was driving a car while being drunk on Okinawa.
It should be reminded it’s been a short while since the US military command introduced prohibition on the military base in Okinawa after a US soldier injured two local residents in a car accident. Okinawans have been demanding the closure of the US military base on the island for a long while now. The latest string of accidents resulted in the largest anti-American protest the last two decades saw. The demonstration was attended by tens of thousands of people that demanded that the military base should be allocated to a deserted part of the island to avoid the continuation of numerous criminal deeds committed by US servicemen. Similar demands are being voiced by the residents of pretty much all the islands of Japan.
Okinawa witnessed the bloodiest skirmishes between American and Japanese soldiers during the Second World War, and it was forced to live under US occupation until 1972. However, if in 1950s the so-called “red threat” could be used as a pretext for the occupation, nowadays there’s absolutely no certainty from whom the US is trying to protect Okinawa, while victimizing its citizens.
However, today on the island of Okinawa houses about 75% of all the US military facilities in Japan along with 50 thousand Americans, including 30 thousand soldiers.
Ever since 1972, when the US “handed over” Okinawa to Japan, American troops have committed almost 6 thousand crimes on this island, 571 of which may be qualified as grave offenses. However, the agreement signed by the US and Japan in 1960 was specially designed to to excuse American citizens from any forms of civil or criminal prosecution, providing them with an equivalent of diplomatic immunity. For this reason, Japanese prosecutors cannot press charges against those who serve the US military, so offenders are leaving Japan freely without any form of retribution being brought on their heads.
Under the influence of the Japanese public, while being reluctant to put up with the criminal lawlessness, Japanese authorities have decided to begin negotiations with Washington on the revision of the protection US servicemen enjoy in Japan. It’s been announced by the Japanese media that a certain agreement was reached on June 4 in Singapore, by Japan’s Defense Minister Nakatani and his American counterpart, Ashton Carter. However, two incidents with drunken American soldiers that occurred shortly after this round of negotiations clearly show that neither Japan nor the US have actually taken stops to stop the criminal activities of the American servicemen.
In this connection one cannot help but recall a similar chain of events that took place in 2011 in South Korea, when local residents became outraged by the actions of two American soldiers who were raping Korean schoolgirls. In response to this situation, South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs established a call center” that was receiving statements of outraged local citizens on the daily basis, when US troops committed offenses or crimes on the Korean peninsula. In response, Americans staged a mass brawl in the center of Seoul, injuring a policeman, and then assaulting two more law enforcement officers that received numerous stab wounds. Back then South Korean authorities started negotiations to revise the “Agreement on the status of US troops in South Korea».
Of course, numerous examples of illegal activities of the US military personnel can be found in other states, where US bases are stationed. It is therefore not surprising that the concern about the close presence of American troops is growing worldwide. This global trend can be exemplified by the discontent of Latvian women that request local authorities to sign an agreement with the United States, requiring US troops to pay child support for those children they leave behind them. As activists say such an agreement should be concluded before NATO troops even arrive to Latvia. They underline the fact that Americans are known for making babies overseas, while serving in the military. But when soldiers leave, women are raising kids alone.
As for the Americans, they seem to be ignorant of the reaction they provoke, failing to realize the full extent of the problem, living in the world described Fulbright: “We have created a society that is occupied with. Violence – is the most important product in our country“.