A U.S. active duty serviceman has been arrested in Okinawa Prefecture for assault of a sexual nature upon a 14 year old girl. Christopher Pelligrini over at Trans Pacific Radio has tried to put the case into context in a thoughtful essay on the prosecution of rape in Japan while Tobias Harris has examined the politico-military background to the case (here and here).
There is a limit to the level of sympathy anyone can extend to the accused: he has already admitted to forcible sexual assault upon a minor. His assertions that he did not engage in sex or know that the girl was not of legal age do not detract from his having forced his attentions upon a person who lacked the physical means to resist him.
The hopelessness of Sergeant Hadnott's situation was made clear in the first comment out of Foreign Minister Kōmura Masahiko's mouth as regards the incident. "Ii kagen ni shiro" ("Give me an effing break") he told the bank of cameras, explaining what the people should be feeling when they first hear of the story on the news.
When the two-time Minister of Foreign Affairs, the nation's top diplomat and the holder of a degreee in law, eschews the language of diplomacy in favor of an earthy, exasperated "What the hell? Again? Give me an effing break" locution--you can pretty much discount the "innocent until proven guilty" presumption.
Ambassador Thomas Schieffer and Marine Lt. General Richard Zilmer have gone before the cameras and sworn, solemnly--with either with complete incomprehension of the situation or with the coldest, most calculating of hypocrisies--to "cooperate fully with the investigation."
I must confess, I laughed. "Cooperate fully with the investigation? What investigation?
Why care? Why should anyone care that a jerk, an idiot, possibly a pedophile, possibly a rapist, is crushed beneath the wheels of the law? If that is the cost of keeping the alliance going-- that a fool is tossed under the wheels to excite the crowd even as his superiors proclaim the openness of their minds as to his guilt--then so be it, right? Is he not a soldier, ready to lay down his life for his country anyway?
We should all be pragmatic--let the law be used to settle old scores, clear old debts from old accounts. We also need to give the people a moment or two of righteous indignation since that makes them feel better about Japan's semi-colonial status.
Anyway, it too late to change anything. The judicial process has begun--the guy's toast. Why waste the resources and the energy? We ourselves could never do anything stupid that could be misrepresented or misunderstood...and the police and prosecutors would never imprison us in order to fulfill a quota or respond to political pressure to "do something!"
Think about the greater good.
Photo: Demons tormenting the damned
Detail from the Enma Scrolls of the Zendōji
Yorii City, Saitama Prefecture
February 11, 2008
Later: Many thanks to reader AC for the correction. According the timeline printed in the Asahi Shimbun evening edition of February 12, local police found Mr. Hadnott sitting in his car in front of his off-base home just after midnight on February 11. The officers convinced Hadnott to voluntarily come with them to the police station for questioning. They arrested him at the police station at around 2:10 a.m.
Even later: After reading the various accounts of the purported rape in the various major dailies, none of the actions or words of any of the main actors makes any sense at all.