Following the US navy rape case allegations in Okinawa, the Japanese media reported massively on the subject and the US navy were forced to labor extensively on damage control, employing curfews on their military personnel. Yet still, the damage done to the reputation of the bases and the negative views held by the Okinawan people have prompted for more calls for the US army to leave Japan. Even PM Fukuda stepped in, calling this incident “unforgivable.”
In a turn of course, the allegedly raped-girl has now dropped the charges and the marine has been released from detention. Of course, assumptions can be made about why she dropped the charge—i.e. a possible pay-off from the military?—but the media are not there to presume, they are there to report facts that the details being reported are only that the charges have been dropped. Yet the contrast in how this is being reported compared to prior to the charges being dropped is significant.
Due to the amount of interest and emotions felt by the Japanese people, the rape case was reported as fact and presumed to be true. Also, the historical nature of the incident and the memories stirred from similar cases in the past also caused the media to report it in such a way. It can also be said that even Fukuda also pre-supposed that the allegations were true, causing the media to respond even more.
It will be interesting to see how the media respond from here: will the media continue their backlash against the US military despite the dropped charges? Will there be continued calls for the marines to “behave themselves?” Or will this story simply die-out and be forgotten until another rape charge comes to light? One thing is for sure—the US navy will have to continue to carefully control their public image and make sure that they do not come under the spotlight in such a way again.
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