Japan will pay compensation of ¥3 million (US$28,800) to an Australian woman who was raped in 2002 by a US sailor who never faced prosecution, the victim and the government said on Monday.
The woman was raped in 2002 by a then sailor of the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier in the naval port city of Yokosuka, south of Tokyo.
Japanese prosecutors dropped the case without pressing a criminal charge against the sailor.
The victim filed a civil case with the Tokyo District Court, which recognized the rape and gave her the right to seek compensation of ¥3 million from her attacker.
However, by the time of the ruling, the sailor had discreetly left the country without even telling his lawyer and the money has never been paid.
“Of course I’m deeply grateful for the Japanese government for using the taxpayers’ money,” said the woman, who used the pseudonym “Jane.”
“But it doesn’t change very much to me because this person who raped me is still walking around,” she said.
Under the Status of US Forces Agreement in Japan, compensation owed by US military personnel to crime and accident victims should be paid by the US government if the service members cannot afford to pay it themselves, but with a two-year statute of limitations.
When the court gave the ruling, the two years had already passed. Now the Japanese defense ministry has decided to shoulder the payment instead, a defense ministry official confirmed, without giving further details.
Jane said the compensation she will receive would not change the fact that similar rape cases “keep on repeating over and over again.”
“No one has ever, ever tried to help [me] from the US military,” she said.