Tiny percentage responsible for wrongdoing, top Marine general in Japan tells troops
Stars and Stripes October 25, 2012
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The top Marine general in Japan told troops on Thursday that 99.9 percent of the U.S. servicemembers in the country are doing “what is right,” while the rest will be held accountable for their wrongdoings.
The all-hands address to about 1,000 Marines and sailors at Okinawa’s Camp Foster came from Lt. Gen. Kenneth J. Glueck Jr., commander of the III Marine Expeditionary Force and Marine Corps Bases Japan. It was part of the core values training, mandatory for all military personnel, that has been ordered, along with an 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, in the wake of an alleged rape of an Okinawa woman by two sailors who were on temporary duty on the island.
Glueck said virtually all troops stand behind the core values of being U.S. servicemembers.
Pointing to Marines and sailors listening to his address, Glueck told local media; “Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of them do what is right.” The rest, he said, “will be made accountable.”
While he said the military takes the recent incident very seriously, systems like the Liberty Card Program have proven effective.
“As a result, we have lowest statistics of incidents over the past 10 years,” he said.
“But it is not good enough,” he said, adding that the military’s goal is “zero defect.”
Airmen at Yokota Air Base reported getting a nearly identical message.
Glueck encouraged Marines and sailors, who gathered at the base’s parade field, to maintain high standards of accountability and responsibility and demonstrate them on a daily basis. He noted that Okinawa has been a stressful place recently. The alleged rape added further volatility to public opposition to the deployment of MV-22 Osprey aircraft.
“Is there anyone who thinks that the strategic landscape here on Okinawa has not changed in the last few weeks?” he asked the servicemembers. “We have been in some rough times, we’ve got rough time with the MV-22s.”
Chobin Zukeran, a member of Japan’s House of Representatives from Okinawa, questioned whether the American military’s moves following the alleged rape will make any difference.
Addressing journalists at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo, he presented a list of sexual assaults on Okinawan women by U.S. troops dating back to 1945 and said some have been followed by imposition of curfews.
“After every incident they say: ‘Enforce strict military discipline,’ " he said. “Horrible things have never stopped.”
He added that although anti-U.S. military demonstrations on the island are peaceful now, that might not continue if Okinawans’ wishes are ignored.
Glueck reminded the Marines and sailors of the Corps’ high standard of getting to “truth north.”
“Right now, we are a few degrees off of the true north,” he said. “We’ll all pitch in together and drive them and push them back to the true north because that is our true culture and tradition.”
He also visited Marine Corps Air Station Futenma on Wednesday and was scheduled to visit other major Marine bases on the island Thursday, including camps Kinser, Courtney, Hansen and Schwab.
Stars and Stripes reporter Seth Robson contributed to this report.