Sputnik: Could you tell us the progress of your renewed bid to ask the Japanese government to amend the Status of Forces Agreement? How flawed is it and what alterations should be introduced to the status to make the military personnel compliant with the law?
Catherine Jane Fisher: I was actually forced by the Japanese police to look for the man who raped me by myself with them. And they would not allow me to go to the hospital, they didn’t give me any underwear, I did not have proper clothing to wear, and you know, I was treated so horrifically. And I just thought, "Why is this happening in this country that I love; I've lived here for almost twenty years!" And I realized no-one was helping me, the police were treating me like a criminal and it just didn’t' make sense to me.
I did a bit of research later, because I thought that I was the only rape victim in Japan, and I realized that this had had, in fact, been happening for over 70 years, but it was not in the media.
So the reason why I think that the SOFA needs changes, and it rest on the idea that the word “respect,” needs to be changed to the word “obey.” Because the man who raped me fled the country and the Japanese government told me that they wouldn’t send him back because the Status of Forces Agreement only said one had to respect the laws of Japan, but it didn’t say "obey." So they couldn’t do anything about it.
Sputnik: You and many other people having said that, have fallen victim to these crimes committed by US servicemen, previously and historically. Why do authorities, do you think, specifically the Japanese and the Americans, why have they kept turning a blind eye to these horrendous crimes?
Catherine Jane Fisher: As an Australian woman, this is a very rare case where a woman from a completely different country would sacrifice 16 years of her life to change one word of Article 16 of the Status of Forces Agreement. We have to sort of realize – we know for a fact, that people are divided around the world on whether or not they would like to have the military present.
Some people would love to have the military present in their country and others do not want them there. We must agree that we are divided on that. But we must also ask: are people divided on whether or not you should rape and murder a person? God forbid that we would be divided on that.
One of the things that was asked of the Japanese government was if the American military pays compensation to the victim's family. Why do the victims’ families need compensation? Of course, they have funerals to pay for. This is such a disgusting case, one of these cases is so horrific! I don't know how they [the Japanese government] sleep at night.
In any other country, if you cannot take care of your citizens that cannot safely walk down on the road, the streets of this country, then you must take responsibility for that. Pay for the funerals, you don’t make the people beg for money. And if, God forbid, people don’t get murdered, so they can beg the Japanese government for money for the funerals and things?
This is just so outrageous, that I said I will not accept what you’ve [the Japanese government officials that Catherine recently met with] just said. They really need to change this cause, and I really do think that changing the word from "respect" to "obey" will eradicate rape and murder crime there.
Sputnik: You’ve alluded to many females who have gone through the same experience as yourself…Where has your fight taken you? Has it given the global audience more awareness about the specific problem of crimes linked to US military bases in overseas jurisdictions?
Catherine Jane Fisher: Most definitely. I’d been living in Japan myself and I’d been unaware that there were US military crimes that were happening in Japan. I was unaware until I became a rape victim myself.
I do not refer to myself as a "victim." I refer to myself as "empowertarian," which is a new word I made for the English dictionary. An empowertarian is a person who empowers their own life and the lives of others. I do believe that we cannot just wait around for the government to assist us, we have to start empowering ourselves, empowering society and making rape crisis [acknowledged]. That was a really important thing that needed to be done.
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