Press Release

AJWRC Says NO to the Unpunished Gang Rape


on Nov 26, 2007

The following is the AJWRC’s statement on the Hiroshima District Public Prosecutors Office’s recent decision to unjustly grant impunity to four US Marines who allegedly gang raped a woman in the nearby district.

Impunity is NOT acceptable!
We protest the HDPPO’s decision not to prosecute the gang rape perpetrators

The Hiroshima District Public Persecutors’ Office (HDPPO) decided on November 15 to drop charges against four marines from the US Marine Corps Iwakuni Air Station, who allegedly gang raped a woman in Naka district in Hiroshima City on October 14. As hope for a fair judgment on this case has been betrayed, we hereby express our grave doubt and concern over this decision. As a consequence, we demand that the HDPPO and the Hiroshima Prefecture Police overturn this decision and be held accountable for how this unacceptable decision was made.

While initially intending to file extradition requests based on the Japan-US Status-Of-Force Agreement, the Hiroshima Prefecture Police changed its position and continued their investigation without filing such requests. Deducing from this investigation process, we think it is extremely doubtful whether a fair investigation was carried out to bring those perpetrators responsible while taking the sensitive nature of sexual violence into consideration.
It is reported that the four Marines emphasized that their act was a result of “mutual agreement.” Despite this report, however, the alleged victim affirmed just after the incident that it was a gang rape, and she has filed suit. She was in a car surrounded by four foreign men with whom she had just made an acquaintance. In other words, she was in a situation where no call for help was possible. A robbery was also committed. Considering the situation she was in, we are very suspicious of the fairness of both the decision by Hiroshima Prefecture Police not to request extradition of the four marines and the denial of the case’s criminality by HDPPO.

One source of our suspicion lies in the fact that the various cases of sexual violence by American soldiers from the US base camp so far have not been penalized appropriately. Shielded by the Japan-US Status of Forces Agreement, so many alleged American soldiers have gotten away without punishment.

It is precisely this neglect of fair investigation and prosecution on the side of the Japanese police and prosecutors which has allowed the existence of such impunity. For example, in 2002, a woman was raped by an American soldier from the Yokosuka US base camp. Despite the report and accusation from the victim, the prosecutor’s office dropped the case without any explanation, just as in the case of Hiroshima. Dissatisfied with this decision, the victim then filed a civil lawsuit and won the case. Today, the victim is demanding state compensation, in accusation of Kanagawa Prefecture Police’s lack of consideration towards a sexually violated victim.

As for the Hiroshima case, the Hiroshima Prefecture Police refused to provide a clear reason for dropping the case, given the “sensitive nature of the case.” We contend that it should be possible for the HDPPO to respond to public concerns while paying good attention to the privacy of the victim.

We are deeply concerned that if the police and prosecutor’s office are not held accountable, and American soldiers who committed heinous crime go unpunished, Japan’s judiciary will lose credence, and women’s human rights will be jeopardized. We therefore demand that Hiroshima Prefecture Police and the HDPPO respond to our doubts and concerns, that they cancel their decision to drop the case and simultaneously bring the case to criminal court, and that they explain the investigation process to the public.

26 November 2007
Asia-Japan Women’s Resource Center
and signed by 37 groups and 364 individuals