"You must and you can do something. Everybody else is doing something except for the Japanese government," Catherine Fisher said, with reference to the now global #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct.
Fisher, an Australian who has long been living in Japan, was raped in 2002 was subsequently awarded damages by a Japanese civil court, which she managed to claim only in the US. Japanese prosecutors refused to pursue criminal charges, which is something Fisher stood up against.
She notably tracked the sailor who she accused of sexually abusing her on her own since he had left for the US. Ten years later, the woman sued Bloke Deans in the Wisconsin Circuit Court to claim damages. She won in 2013, but asked for only $1 – just to draw attention to the issue, she said.
She has been fighting for the better protection of women’s rights in Japan, where rape victims rarely break silence. In particular, she is vocally demanding financial compensation for the family of a Japanese woman for whose death a former US military contractor was convicted in December 2017.
In this much debated case, Kenneth Shinzato was accused of hitting a 20-year-old Okinawa woman in the head and stabbing her with a knife to death while attempting to rape her.
The case once again sparked a heated debate on whether US army personnel should stay in Okinawa, which hosts about half of the 50,000 American troops stationed in Japan.
There were also earlier criminal cases involving US military officers that were used as arguments by Okinawan locals as they lobbied against the US military presence in the area.
In 1995, the abduction and rape of a 12-year-old Okinawan schoolgirl by two US marines and a sailor led to calls to relocate all US military bases in Japan.
Also, in February 2008, a 38-year-old US marine based ni Okinawa was arrested in connection with the alleged rape of a 14-year-old Okinawan schoolgirl. The accuser withdrew her charges, but the US military court sentenced the suspect to four years in prison in line with tougher rules of military justice.
In 2013, two US military staffers, Seaman Christopher Browning and Petty Officer 3rd Class Skyler Dozierwalker, were found guilty by the Naha District Court of raping and robbing a young woman in a parking lot. Both admitted committing the crime.