(TOKYO) — A Japanese judge handed down sentences for two American sailors convicted of raping and robbing a woman in Okinawa last October, calling their actions “contemptible and violent.”
Seaman Christopher Browning and Petty Officer 3rd Class Skyler Dozierwalker both admitted to their crimes and were sentenced to ten and nine years behind bars, respectively. But the incident is reigniting longstanding tensions between the U.S. military and Okinawans.
Okinawa Island houses over half of the 50,000 American troops in Japan, and plays a crucial role in regional security, but the rape is only the latest in a series of incidents that are sparking outrage and building resentment.
In 1995 most notably, three soldiers were only sentenced to six and a half years each after the brutal gang rape of a 12-year-old girl. The crime and lax sentencing sparked massive anti-U.S. demonstrations.
Incidents like this only add to general complaints about noise and the dangers that come with living near military bases. Before the rape last October, residents were already upset at U.S. plans to deploy Osprey aircraft to the island.
Although most military crimes are tried in military court, severe and contemptible offenses such as rape can be tried in Japanese courts, as was the case here.
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