Archive for the 'Japan' Category

Oct 16 2012

2 U.S. soldiers arrested for raping woman in Okinawa

Published by under Japan,usa

2 U.S. soldiers arrested for raping woman in Okinawa

Adam Westlake
October 16th, 2012

Two United States servicemen were arrested by Okinawa police on Tuesday for the gang-raping of a Japanese woman. The attack took place sometime just before dawn on Tuesday morning, and the two men were taken into custody late in the afternoon. With an anti-U.S. military sentiment already running high among the people of Okinawa after the deployment of the controversial MV-22 Osprey aircrafts this month, a terrible incident such as this will only further ignite tensions.

NHK, Japan’s national television broadcaster, reports that the American men are both 23 years old, and have been accused of the assault and rape of the woman. One of the sailors has admitted to Okinawa police his participation in the attack, while the other denies any involvement. Incidents of crime in Okinawa involving U.S. military personnel often result in large outpourings of anger, and this case sadly echoes a 1995 rape of a 12 year old Okinawan girl by several servicemen.

With roughly 47,000 U.S. soldier stationed in Japan, the people of Okinawa feel it unjust that they alone carry the burden of hosting half. The 1995 crime sparked a long-standing protest to reduce the number of soldiers in Okinawa and relocate the U.S. Military’s bases off the island. Agreements and progress have been held up for years, with Okinawans feeling they have been given nothing but empty promises, while the U.S. maintains that the island is vital for strategic and defensive purposes in the Asian region.

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Oct 17 2011

And Then Came Savagery (Nanking Atrocities)

Published by under China,Japan

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Nov 07 2010

Remaining in Nanking and chronicling the horrors

Published by under Asia,Japan

Remaining in Nanking and chronicling the horrors

Sunday, Nov. 7, 2010

THE UNDAUNTED WOMEN OF NANKING: The Wartime Diaries of Minnie Vautrin and Tsen Shui-fang, edited by Hua-ling Hu and Lian-hong Zhang. Southern Illinois University Press, 2010, 227 pp., $29.95 (hardcover)

The history of missionary work in Asia and the Pacific region has not always been exemplary, as we know from the eradication by religious zealots of entire micro-cultures in the name of Christ. Minnie Vautrin, acting president of Ginling College and witness to the atrocities committed at Nanking, was known to the Chinese whom she gave shelter to as the “Goddess of Mercy,” an allusion perhaps to the Chinese figure Guanyin. She does appear by all accounts to have been a truly saintly figure, a woman dedicated to the protection and educational improvement of those under her wing, a missionary who believed, to quote from a December entry in her diary, that “war is a national crime and a sin against the creative spirit at the heart of the Universe.”

We know that in modern warfare it is civilians who pay the highest price. The statistics on Nanking may be disputed, but the documented facts are incontestable. During indiscriminate rampages conducted by Japanese soldiers beginning in the winter of 1937, somewhere between 80,000 and 300,000 murders and acts of torture took place in the city over a period of several weeks. The Tokyo War Crimes Trial of 1946 placed the figure at 200,000.

It is impossible to determine the number of rape victims, though it is said to be in the tens of thousands. Vautrin and Tsen Shui-fang, a trained nurse, detailed atrocities committed on their campus and the suffering experienced by the women and children there. The two women were fully aware of the risks involved in keeping records destined, whether they sensed it or not, to become historical authority. With the translation of Tsen’s diary, the two accounts have been juxtaposed to great effect.

Though both women were Christians sharing the same creed and values, the differences in reaction to the nightmare of Nanking are telling. Vautrin, though appalled by a vision of descent into extreme inhumanity, is prepared to see the events in Nanking as a ghastly aberration, asking at one point in her diary, “If only the thoughtful people in Japan could know what is happening in Nanking.” Tsen, under extreme “stress, constant fear, persistent danger, physical exhaustion and insurmountable anger” during the recording of her diary, is consumed we sense by a desire to extract a terrible revenge on more than just the perpetrators.

The treatment of the Chinese seems plausible only by grasping the mindset of the ordinary Japanese soldier, indoctrinated to regard non-Japanese, particularly Asians, with contempt, a theme echoed by Tsen when she writes, “They simply treat the Chinese people not as human beings.” This recalls the use of the word “logs” by Japanese scientists and military personnel to describe the live Chinese subjects they were conducting biological experiments on during the war.

By late February 1938, law and order had been nominally restored in Nanking, but the casually committed horrors were not over, as a trip Vautrin made in the company of an American pastor in March of that year corroborates. The two traveled to the south of the city to document the case of a 48-year-old woman who had been raped 18 times, and her twice-violated 78-year-old mother. Vautrin was offered a way out of Nanking on several occasions with higher-paying positions in the United States. The mark of her dedication was that she refused all such offers of escape until 1940, when she suffered a nervous breakdown as a result of her ordeals.

On May 14, 1941, this brave and selfless woman took her own life, leaving a message stating that she would rather die than go insane. There is no question that the horrors of Nanking were directly responsible for the mental anguish that led to the death of this fine woman. Although haunted no doubt by her own memories, Tsen fared better, living until the ripe old age of 94.

Nanking’s agony was to continue until the end of the war. In a final irony of supreme proportions, its liberation was only secured through the mediation of more horrors: Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

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Sep 05 2010

Terrifyingly clear: 66 years later

Published by under Asia,Japan

Terrifyingly clear: 66 years later Lucia McDonald vividly remembers the war

By Janice Miller • Pacific Sunday News • September 5, 2010

Her hands are not as nimble as they were 69 years ago. Her hair, once jet-black, is now peppered with gray. At 83 years old, her memory isn’t the best at times, but she still recalls the tiniest details of the most traumatic period in her life — the occupation.

“It was morning. … Everyone was running around and screaming,” says Lucia McDonald, recalling the day the Japanese invaded Guam on Dec. 8, 1941. Nearly 70 years later on a cool, quiet afternoon, McDonald sat down in the comfort of her Agana Heights kitchen to share her story — one she never told her children.

Her tired eyes darted back and forth as she reflected on that day. Looking from the empty dishes on the counter to the room’s simple, brown cupboards, it’s as if she still sees the people of her village running around in terror. She stares down toward the red cloth covering the table where she’s sitting, perhaps seeing the blood she saw spilling from people’s bodies that day. That calm, bright morning in Agana Heights was cut short by the loud, whirring engines of Japanese bombers flying over Guam.

McDonald, 15 at the time, was at the Naval hospital giving one of her brothers, who was sick and in the Navy, his pajamas. “We were standing outside the hospital with the military people that were sick, looking at the sky,” she says, glancing up at her kitchen ceiling. “The planes — we didn’t know if they were Japanese or not — and people (were) saying, ‘What’s going on?’ … I heard somebody said, ‘Maybe it’s not (an) American plane.’” Suddenly, McDonald was running through the streets of town to her home. Dodging the screaming people around her, she raced to what was then Agana in the chaos. She was terrified and confused. “I don’t like the feeling, what I’m feeling. I’m scared,” she recalls, speaking about the bombing as if it had just happened. And then, when I pass by the church, the people were running outside crying — I said, ‘Oh my goodness, something is wrong.’”

Finding home

“I passed to the church and I ran into the plaza — the palace where the governor was staying — my house was very close,” McDonald says. Pointing toward the white walls of her kitchen, she remembers the smoke that engulfed Agana as the Japanese continued to bomb the city from their planes. Her eyes squint, as if she is still trying to see through the fog that lay over the island when the bombing stopped.

“My mother was crying and she was saying, ‘Hurry up, hurry up, Lucia!’” McDonald says. In the rush, she tried to grab everything she could, but it wouldn’t be enough to last the nearly three years the Japanese empire occupied Guam. “Whatever you can carry,” McDonald says. “It’s very hard. You cannot go and get your shoes, get your clothes, get your panty. Nothing. You just grab and run.”

Running out of her home with everything she could carry, McDonald went to her uncle’s house where her family was waiting. Everyone piled into her uncle’s bread van for the bumpy drive to the family’s ranch in Yona. “People, a lot of them, were dying on the way,” McDonald says. “Oh, I cried and I’m (feeling) scared. You see old people dying on the road. Some are just walking and then they’ll fall down. … The old ladies, they fell on their knees — scratched all over, blood spilling. Oh, my goodness. It was awful.”

‘She’s pretty’

Once the family reached the ranch, McDonald’s uncle built a ladder up to the home’s attic. Each day, McDonald was told to hide in the attic with her two sisters until night so the Japanese soldiers wouldn’t rape them, she says. With a large can to urinate in and another one for water, the girls stayed silent in the stifling, cramped quarters quietly listening to each breath they took and the sounds of life passing them by in the house below. “During the day (my uncle would) hide the ladder,” McDonald says. “We were not captured, but the neighbors around, they were abused … beaten or raped (when they argued with the Japanese).”

This wasn’t the only time McDonald narrowly avoided rape by Japanese soldiers. After working in the fields one day, she was told to go with her sister and her cousin to the quarters of one of the Japanese leaders. McDonald remembers praying to make it home safely that night. “The three of us were placed in front of the quarters for the head Japanese (soldier),” McDonald says her voice barely audible as her shoulders slumped and her gaze dropped to the floor.

“They took only one.” They liked her cousin — the girl with the white complexion and Japanese eyes. “She was pretty. … After two days, they released her.” Although McDonald is grateful she was overlooked that day, she still carries guilt of her cousin’s rape with her. Blankly staring down at the red tablecloth in front of her, she was silent. “I feel bad.”

Surviving brutality

Early during the occupation McDonald was questioned about her father’s whereabouts. She remembers the hard slap she received across her face after every answer she gave. “They asked me, ‘Where is your father?’ I said, ‘He’s not here, he’s in America.’ … ‘He’s American?’ (they asked). I said, ‘Please, I cannot deny it, he’s Mexican-American.’”

McDonald was later questioned about her brother’s involvement with a fugitive the Japanese were hunting. Even though she didn’t know anything, all three of her brothers were taken into custody after her interrogation. They were beaten and starved. “They came to question us about my brother hiding a fugitive,” she says. “Us two girls were forced to go to the jungle… so they could question us… and they kept on slapping us. I said, ‘Sorry, you can do anything (you want to us) but we don’t know anything’ — because we didn’t.”

Memories of these terrifying moments haunt McDonald as she continues to look up from the red tablecloth in front of her. She recalls the terror she felt when she was forced to watch the deaths of three Chamorro men she knew, just after the men were ordered to dig their own graves.

“The Japanese came forward and he told us to look and don’t turn around, ‘don’t make a cry because you gonna be next,’” she says. “All I heard is the ssshhht (of the bayonet). I was looking at them (the Chamorro men) but all of a sudden my eyes were blind — but I saw the blood spurting up and his head was hanging. He didn’t fall, so they pushed him down. The other (two) were shot.”

Letting go

Now, 66 years after Guam’s liberation, McDonald has found forgiveness in her heart. It was a time of war, she says. Believing that the soldiers were under orders, she feels they are not to be hated for their actions. Now, McDonald says she is lucky because her immediate family survived the occupation. Since then, she has moved on with life. She married a fellow war survivor, her boyfriend during the occupation. They had 12 children, eventually becoming the proud grandparents of more than 40 grandchildren. This November, the octogenarian is anxiously anticipating the celebration of her 84th birthday.

Looking up from the tablecloth, she smiles, proud as her story comes to an end. “I won’t forget,” she says. “Lucky, I’m still alive to tell (my story). … It’s been a long time.”

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