Sunday, March 2, 2008

Hadnott released; trouble remains

Not long after Secretary Rice expressed her "regrets" for US Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Tyrone Hadnott's alleged rape of a fourteen-year-old Okinawan girl, Japanese authorities released him after the alleged victim's family dropped charges.

US Ambassador Schieffer made clear that although Japanese charges have been dropped, the US will continue to investigate the case — although I am sure that Sergeant Hadnott is relieved to be back under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Okinawan authorities, including the prefectural assembly, should probably apologize for their overreaction — but won't. And regardless, the reaction of Okinawans is not the issue.

This incident illustrates yet again that the US-Japan alliance walks on the edge of a precipice and that the US presence has a distortionary impact on Japanese politics. This case may have been a false alarm, but does anyone think that this will be the last such case? In some way, the new countermeasures, once implemented, could have perverse consequences in raising the expectations among the Okinawan people that the situation is under control, thereby ratcheting the anger and disappointment to ever higher levels the next time an incident occurs, with untold consequences for the fate of the US forward presence and the alliance.

So, once again: the US must take the initiative in seeing the realignment process through to completion. The US government must be prepared to act unilaterally to accelerate the relocation of the III MEF to Guam.

1 comment:

Bryce said...

"Okinawan authorities, including the prefectural assembly, should probably apologize for their overreaction — but won't."

I have to disagree. At the very least, Hadnott was guilty by his own admission of forcing himself upon this girl. Yet the girl doesn't even want to lay charges on the basis of assault, which would seem to be odd if she were raising complaints merely because she bore some grudge against Hadnott. My guess is that she or her parents wanted to avoid the glare of publicity that would no doubt accompany such a case, or, as has happened in other rape cases on Okinawa, there has been official pressure to withdraw the complaint.

In any case, I'm also fairly sceptical on your position on the strength of the U.S.-Japan Alliance. The Alliance has survived worse before and despite the structural "glue" that held the Alliance in place during the Cold War, mission creep will probably be a factor in holding the current arrangements in place. Both sides know they get a good deal out of the Alliance. Rajan Menon was merely capitalising on Zeitgeist, in other words.