October 30, 2007
Filipino and Japanese activists meet and disucss Subic and Iwakuni rape incidents
OSAKA -- Three days before the anniversary of the Subic Rape incident in the Philippines involving four United States Marines, Filipino and Japanese activists convened in the small city of Iwakuni in Yamaguchi Prefecture to discuss what appears to be striking similarities between another rape incident in the city.
Filipino activists met with anti-bases groups in Iwakuni City to discuss US military presence in the region which has resulted in October 14 alleged rape of a 19-year old Japanese woman by four US Marines. Like the Subic rape incident two years ago, the Iwakuni rape case happened when the four US Marines met a local Japanese woman and invited her to ride with them in their vehicle. She was reportedly raped while inside the vehicle.
The four US Marines belong to the US Marine Airbase in Iwakuni City, an important US military facility Japan, together with the Kanagawa military base and the Okinawa base. They are currently being investigated by Japanese authorities but like in the Subic Rape case, they remain under US custody. The small coastal city of Iwakuni has a population of only 152,000 people.
In November 1, 2005, four US Marines raped a Filipino woman whom they picked up in a bar in Subic base. Last year, a Philippine court convicted one of the Marines for the crime of rape.
Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr. and Anakbayan chair Eleanor de Guzman joined more than 250 union leaders, youth activists and foreign delegates in denouncing the continued presence of the US military in Iwakuni during a rally last Sunday. The groups were able to reach the main gate of the Marine base. The marchers included delegates from the anti-war movement in the US as well as labor activists from Taiwan and South Korea.
"What is definitely disturbing here is that the US response in the Subic rape incident seems to be repeated in the Iwakuni incident. Again the US government refuses to give custody of their soldiers to local authorities," Reyes said.
"What is also alarming is that the cavalier attitude of the US government when these incidents happen seems to be encouraging the abusive behavior of American servicemen. That they feel they can pick up just any girl in Subic or Iwakuni and gang rape her in a van is a symptom of sheer arrogance and utter disrespect for our peoples," the Bayan leader added
In the Subic rape incident, while one of the servicemen was convicted, he remains under the custody of the US government while the case is pending appeal.
In the Iwakuni rape case, the four US Marines have yet to be charged by Japanese authorities who cited inconsistencies in the statements of the alleged rape victim. "There appears to be an effort by some local authorities to shift the blame on the rape victim just so protests against US military presence will die down. This is very similar to the Subic rape case wherein 'Nicole', the victim was blamed for her actions," Reyes said.
Reyes said that it was important for the people of Iwakuni to know of the sad experience of the Filipino people when it comes to unequal relations with the US.
"We told the Iwakuni residents and participants of the protest how under the Visiting Forces Agreement, even a convicted American serviceman could not be placed under Philippine custody. We were told that the same rule operates in Japan, wherein the Japanese
government would have to request custody of offenders," the Bayan leader said.
"It seems that under no circumstances will the US government allow its soldiers to be placed under the custody and criminal jurisdiction of any country," Reyes added.
Japan and the US have a very long security alliance which includes the positioning of troops in Japan and the use of bases for military operations overseas.
"The common experiences with American troops in our two countries strengthens our resolve to work together for the removal of US military bases and troops in Japan, Philippines, Korea and Asia as a whole," Reyes added. ###
Renato Reyes may be temporarily contacted through this email or thorugh email@example.com.
Monday, October 29, 2007