Coming on the heels of the ongoing Air Force Academy scandal, a US marine accused of punching and raping a 19-year-old Japanese woman in Okinawa was arrested this week, highlighting the continuing problem of sexual violence in the military. According to reports by the Okinawa Police, lance corporal Jose Torres allegedly punched the woman in the face and then raped her on the street, reported Reuters. While the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) which details legal rights for US military personnel in Japan does not require the US to hand over suspects until they are indicted, a Japan-US Joint Committee agreed on Torres’ immediate transfer, given the nature of the crime.
The incident strikes sensitive chords among Okinawan residents, who in 1995 witnessed the gang rape of a 12-year-old girl by three US servicemen. Inhabitants of the small Japanese island, which hosts over half of the nearly 50,000 US troops stationed in Japan, have repeatedly called for a reduction in US military presence.