International Relations of the Asia-Pacific

February 2004 (Volume 4, No. 1)


Okinawa: women, bases and US-Japan relations
by Yumiko Mikanagi


The goal of this paper is to examine the process by which rapes and other acts of sexual violence lead to changes in international relations. This paper focuses on the rape of an Okinawan schoolgirl in 1995 because it presents a mysterious puzzle: given the changing international structural and epistemic environment, why did the US and Japanese governments fail to answer local calls for measures to prevent future rapes and other crimes by soldiers, perhaps by reducing the size of US forces deployed in Okinawa? By looking into factors that affected the decision-making process within the US and Japanese governments, this paper tries to explain why the issue of US bases in Okinawa evolved in the way it has since 1995.