Result of suspected rape in Japan by US servicemen

I’ve heard some things about this story on and off for the past few months or so. Nearly all of the coverage, however, had to do with how it affected our relations with Japan and whether the rest of our military presence there was in jeopardy. This had me baffled, because no semeed to be very concerned about the simple fact that a serious crime has been committed.

This isn’t an opinion thread, though. What I want to know is 1) Was there, at the very least, an investigation to round up evidence and possible suspects, 2) if suspects were found, were they court-martialed, and 3) if there was, and someone was found guilty, was the sentence appropriate (which would be considerable jail time and a dishonorable discharge at the least). I know the military is usually secretive about embarrassing incidents, but anything anyone can tell me would be great.

If you’re talking about the '95 rape of a 12 year old schoolgirl all I could find were sentences. No mention of court martials, etc. I beleive they were handed over to Japanese authorities and tried there.

I beleive there has been more than one rape commited by US servicemen in Japan, but this case certainly stirred up a lot of strong emotions.

I’ve read several accounts of this case (the rape of the 12 year old girl by U.S. servicmen – and I use the term men loosely, obviously). I lived in San Diego at the time of the crime, and the Norfolk, VA area since – both Navy Towns, so we perhaps hear more about these things than other areas. IIRC, the guilty parties were quickly apprehended, given bad conduct discharges, and turned over to the Japanese authorities for trial there. I also believe there was some concern over the sentencing – they would have received stiffer sentences here, or something. A quick web-check didn’t confirm my memory, BTW and a quick check is all I had time for (I have class in an hour and a half), so when I get home I’ll see whether I can find any cites.

Jess, please read the link provided above. The Servicemembers involved were not given bad conduct discharges and then tried by the Japanese.

What happened was that they were apprehended and finally turned over to the Japanese authorities.

Then they were tried under Japanese law.

They were found guilty.

They were sentenced to prison.

At least one of them has appealed the length of his sentence, saying it’s too long for what he did. (7 years or so for a brutal rape is too long?!)

They have not been tried by a court-martial. Remember: Bad Conduct Discharges and Dishonorable Discharges can only be issued as part of a sentence handed down at a court-martial.

Another interesting thing is that under the UCMJ, even in peacetime, the maximum sentence for rape is the death penalty. What got the Japanese so upset was the idea that anyone who did such an atrocious act would not be tried by Japanese law. It was, and remains so in Japan and Korea, a big issue over national sovereignty.

Please check the facts before posting stuff. (An aside: other “facts” that are not facts in relation to the United States military are: “You lose your constitutional rights when you enlist” and “You become the property of the government when you enlist.” No to both.)

Sorry, Monty. I wasn’t claiming “facts,” though. I was claiming my recollection (that’s what the “IIRC” was for) only, and in a hurry too. As I left the house it occurred to me that I should have ordered it differently – apprehended, convicted, BCD. I did read the link, BTW, and a couple of others and found no reference to military punishment. I will, of course, differ to your superior knowledge (you were a personnelman, IIRC?) but I thought that a BCD was pretty standard after being convicted of a felony. However, I was only a lowly 3rd class petty officer, so I am very likely wrong. Anyway, remembering that this is GQ, I will remember to refrain from WAGs without factual backup in the future.

No kidding? Thanks for pointing this out.


Unless you’re in a fantasy land, there’s absolutely no way the Japanese courts can order a BCD for a US Servicemember. Again, only a court-martial can dictate such a punishment.

[my humble opinion]I see a discharge being issued sometime (not long) after their release from the Japanese prison or an OTH being granted whilst they’re in prison. Mind you this is just my opinion on that.[/my humble opinion]

Exactly. The military relinquished jurisdiction in this matter. I trust I don’t have to post a definition of “relinquish.”

I have what is known as informed knowledge of military courts, that being part of the job skills required for not only a Legalman, but also a AZ, CTA, YN and PN. Your recollection is correct as to my rating. My rate is PO1, thus giving the appellation of PN1.

No. Again, that is not within the purview of the civilian (and certainly not the foreign) courts. Again, only a military court can dictate a BCD.

I distinctly remember the types of discharges and how they come about not only being discussed in Basic Training but also in the Petty Officer Indoctrination Class for you new PO3s. For me, I got the discussion in Basic Combat Training when I was in the Army and in the PN Class “A” School, since I didn’t go through Navy Boot. Also, I was never a PO3. I was, however, a PV1, PV2, PFC, SP4, SP5, and SGT before joining the Navy.

I, for one, will appreciate this. And, if I do make a WAG of my own without saying it’s a WAG, have at me. Fair’s fair.

(a) Under the UCMJ, rape can be a capital offense, either during peacetime or during time of war.

(b) Both of those other issues have arisen on this board a while back and a couple of individuals swore up and down that both of those “facts” were, in fact, facts. Apparently, not everyone pays attention in classes after they get out of high school either. FWIW, one of those individuals swore up and down that he had a primary AFSC of Medic and secondary AFSC of Security Police. What’s even more amazing is that he also thought that murder was an acceptable form of discipline in the field. IMHO, folks like that give our mighty fine and professional military a black eye. We don’t need that.

Oh, BTW, I’m retired as of February 29, 2000.

<sigh> I believe that there is a difference between a WAG, which is simply a guess, and “IIRC” which is based upon a recollection and which may or may not be accurate. My comments (which I admit were inaccurate, see below) were of the latter type. Mods? Is it inappropriate in GQ to throw out a IIRC-type post with a promise to come back and verify the information later? I sometimes do this when I’m in a hurry to mark the post so I’ll remember to do the research when I have more time. If this is a breech of GQ etiquette I will, of course, desist.

To the OP. As Monty pointed out, I was wrong (wrong, WRONG!!) about the Bad Conduct Discharge I remembered in this case. I do know, BTW, that a Japanese court cannot hand down a BCD. I had thought that it was standard procedure to court martial people who are convicted of felonies. As Monty pointed out, that did not happen in this case – because they were tried, convicted and are serving their sentences in Japan. My concern, once I started thinking about this case again, was whether or not these guys are still pulling down a military paycheck while they sit in a Japanese prison. I looked, but couldn’t find any specific information about this aspect of the case. So, I asked my husband (LCDR with 25 years of active duty service). He tells me that the creeps would have been put on desertion status after 30 days. Their pay would have been stopped at that time. My husband believes that the three will be taken into military custody upon their release from the Japanese prison and court-martialed for desertion. The court-martial will include a review of the circumstances of the desertion. Because “I was being held in a foreign prison for raping a child” isn’t much of an excuse, they will almost certainly receive BCDs, and may receive sentences to serve time in a military prison as well.

One last thing. Monty? While I haven’t exactly covered myself with glory in this thread, I don’t think I’ve been quite dim enough to deserve this:

Nor do I remember anything about our history on these boards together that justifies that rudeness.

First off: When someone is IHCA or IHFA (In Hands of Civil Authorities & In Hands of Foreign Authorities) as a result of a lawful conviction (i.e., one handed down by a court), that Servicemember’s pay status for each day is considered as “not present for duty.” As the individuals in question for the case currently under discussion did not flee their unit and were, in fact, handed over to the foreign authorities by their command, there is absolutely no way that can be considered as desertion. They did not desert, although what they did do, kidnap/torture/rape, was heinous enough, and thus can not be tried for desertion. The IHCA/IHFA as a result of a conviction is a non-pay status. There are certain exceptions as to family member allowances, etc., for those who are overseas, but that’s very involved and quite dry, but in general, it’s a completely non-pay status.

Second: It is not standard procedure to court-martial someone convicted of a felony. That’s the whole idea of the jurisdiction thing - to avoid trying someone for the same crime twice. Now, there is such a thing as trying the person for conduct unbecoming, and other crimes which the civil/foreign authorities either never tried or did not consider a crime. There is also the whole concept of administrative separation.

Rudeness? I’ll let that slide. What I will do, however, is post posthaste a link to the Navy’s Bureau of Naval Personnel’s MILPERSMAN’s sections regarding administrative discharges and IHCA/IHFA.

Declaring someone a deserter doesn’t always require waiting for the 30-day point. If it is evident that the individual does not intend to return to his appointed place of duty, then he can be declared a deserter immediately. One of the prima facie evidence of intent to remain absent is fleeing from the military while non-judicial punishment or a court-martial is in process, to include the initial investigation if the individual is aware of said investigation.

[Moderator watch ON]

WAGs and IIRCs are perfectly acceptable in answers here, as long as they’re indicated as such. Often, they’ll be the only sort of answer a question will get, and we have to take what’s available. Rudeness to other posters, however, is not acceptable, so I’m going to have to ask you two to please cool it down a bit.

Certainly, Chronos. My apologies to both you and Monty. I won’t let it happen again. Oh, and thanks for answering my question.
Jess (who is on her way to the “How many times have you been reprimanded by a mod” thread, now that she has something to report.)

As promised, here’s a link to the MILPERSMAN online:

Some interesting articles (the MILPERSMAN article numbering system was changed just a couple of years ago to match the SSIC [Standard Subject Identification Code] system) to check in it are:

1600-010 Deserters

1910-142 Separation by reason of commission of a serious offense

1910-144 Separation by reason of of misconduct - civilian conviction

5815-010 Executing a Dishonorable Discharge or Bad Conduct Discharge

5821-010 Delivery of personnel to civilian authorities

The entire 7000 series covers pay matters - dry, but if you’re into that, could be interesting.

As I mentioned above, there are certain extra matters regarding personnel overseas. One of those is what the Status of Forces Agreement (aka SOFA) allows or prohibits both the host country and the US Armed Forces. A common prohibition is against discharging servicemembers while in local jails overseas as a way of no longer having any responsibility over or for them. Thus, if the SOFA for the country in question has that prohibition, the US Forces must still visit the confined servicemembers on a regular schedule and keep them and their families up to date on their condition, etc. Also, that individual would be “adsep’d” quite quickly after release from jail with the separating activity being back in the United States.

Regarding “sitting in a Japanese prison”: one member of my squadron was accused of a crime by another foreigner (not military) in Tokyo and had to spend two weeks in the Roppongi jail. As he was not guilty of the crime, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department did a good job investigating it, he was released without charges. The time he was in the hokey though, was considered as “good time,” and he did receive his regular pay for it. Wasn’t his fault a liar swore out a false complaint.

[[. Mods? Is it inappropriate in GQ to throw out a IIRC-type post with a promise to come back and verify the information later? I sometimes do this when I’m in a hurry to mark the post so I’ll remember to do the research when I have more time. If this is a breech of GQ etiquette I will, of course, desist.]]

Adding my own IMHO:
We don’t like it when people post guesses here as fact (though we’re not Cecil and are entitled to a mistake once in awhile). But WAGs and IIRCs - properly labeled - are welcome. It gives others a chance to clarify or dispute. - Jill

Thanks for the responses. I was not aware that the Japanese government wanted to take the matter into their own hands. Trust me, I feel a lot better now.

Still, I wonder why they didn’t trust the US military to take care of its own. The Vietnam War is long over; there’s no way in hell the modern military is going to let a felony slide, especially one which jeopardizes our foreign interests. The irony, of course, is that the sentence the guilty parties got was much, much lighter than what a court-martial could lay down. I know that nationalistic fervor can be pretty powerful, but sometimes you have to give a little to get a lot, know what I’m saying?