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HOME  > Past issues  > 2012 November 7 - 13  > Japan-US alliance hampers efforts to eradicate violence against women in Japan
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2012 November 7 - 13 [US FORCES]

Japan-US alliance hampers efforts to eradicate violence against women in Japan

November 13, 2012
Akahata current column

An annual campaign to eradicate violence against women started on November 11 in Japan in conjunction with municipalities and women’s groups, ongoing until November 25, the U.N. International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

A recent example of “violence against women” is the rape of a Japanese woman by two U.S. sailors in Okinawa last month which occurred shortly after another sexual assault of a woman by a U.S. marine in August. Reported acts of sexual assault involving U.S. servicemen are only the tip of the iceberg since sexual assault is a highly underreported crime.

Not only in Okinawa but in Kanagawa, Iwakuni City (Yamaguchi), and Sasebo City (Nagasaki) where people are forced to live near U.S. military bases, women and children are often subjected to violent behavior. There seems to be no end to such crimes.

“The use of violence is inherent in military training and sexual violence against women occurs, and is often condoned, whenever soldiers may be stationed,” points out Cultural Anthropologist Darrell Moen, a professor at Shibaura Institute of Technology. He was in the U.S. Air Force for four years from 1968. It was at the time of the Vietnam War and he himself was sent to Vietnam in 1969. After being taught a sense of racial prejudice against Asians, gruelingly trained, and physically and verbally abused on a daily basis during basic training, many soldiers lost their sensitivity to the value of life. That was an important component in the structural process of desensitizing soldiers in regard to respecting the human rights of others, he recalls.

How inhumane military soldiers are taught to behave! Militaries are organizations based on violence. Even inside the U.S. military, sexual assaults occur frequently against female personnel. The situation in Okinawa shows that vague terms like “stricter discipline” can never solve the problem.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty coming into effect. If really wanting to eradicate violence against women, Japan should straightforwardly call into question this treaty, the very cause that allows the U.S. military bases to be stationed in Japan.
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