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Okinawa leads nation in domestic violence cases

Date Posted: 2007-04-20

Okinawa’s domestic violence rate is nearly triple the Japan national average.

The Ministry of the Cabinet this week announced the latest figures, which say Okinawans are beating their wives at a rate of 17.7 cases per 100,000 population. The national average is 6.9 cases.

The government began a strong crusade against domestic violence in 2001, implementing a pair of court orders to protect abused spouses. One, a protection order, prohibited the abuser from even approaching the battered spouse. Those orders are issued by the courts, covering six-month periods.

A second order, referred to as a dismissal order, stipulates the assailant cannot live in the same house with the victim for a period of two months. Violating the rules can lead the culprit to a year in prison or payment of a ¥1 million fine.

The new rules are actually working, local officials point out. Despite being labeled worst in the nation, Okinawa’s ranking dropped from first to third in 2005, and sixth in 2006. Officials say Okinawans haven’t stopped beating their wives, but instead, other prefectures diluted the negative numbers by stepping up domestic abuse protections in their own communities.

Okinawa had 241 domestic abuse cases in the past five years. A lawyer handling domestic violence cases says it’s because men in Okinawa have a higher social status. Others say that is true only in the case of older people.

Women are increasing in social and community stature, according to officials, and that could be a contributing factor as men feel threatened. Okinawa’s tradition of the eldest son being the leader in the family leads to a male dominance tendency, even to the point of beating the women.

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