U.S. Military 'Feared' in Japan

The U.S. military in Okinawa has restricted its troops to their home bases for a "Day of Reflection" today after a series of crimes by American soldiers, including the alleged rape of a 14-year-old girl that has roiled relations with the islanders.

Japanese and U.S. officials also announced new measures to be more selective of military personnel allowed to leave their bases and to have joint Japanese-American police patrols.

Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura said 44,963 U.S. military servicemen and related personnel live in Okinawa and 10,748 of them reside off base.

The Japanese government will also provide support to local authorities should they feel the need to install surveillance cameras in public places in order to ensure security.

"Will these measures stop any future crimes by U.S. military personnel? I cannot say they will with certainty," Komura said. "We will have to keep working on those measures on a long-term basis to prevent any recurrences."

Japanese Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba also said today that further crimes committed by U.S. troops could hurt the alliance between the United States and Japan. Ishiba also called for concrete and tighter prevention plans by the United States, including toughening the criteria for the military personnel living off base.

The arrest of a 38-year-old U.S. Marine Feb. 11 for the alleged rape of a 14-year-old junior high school student sparked protests and demands for tighter discipline on U.S. military personnel.

Staff Sgt. Tyrone Luther Hadnott has been questioned by Japanese authorities, but not charged with a crime.

Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda condemned the alleged incident as "unforgivable."

U.S. officials have expressed regrets and concern about the series of incidents. Thomas Schieffer, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, visited Okinawa two days after Hadnott's arrest and offered an apology.

"It is truly regrettable that an incident like this could have occurred, and my heart goes out to this young girl, to her family and to all of the people affected by this," Schieffer said in a statement to the governor and people of the prefecture. Schieffer also handed the governor of Okinawa a letter to the girl and her family.

Christopher Hill, the U.S. assistant secretary of state, said Thursday, "From my vantage point, I just want to make very clear the great regret that we feel about this, the concern that we feel for the Okinawan people and our desire that our officials in this country … that they do all they can to address the measures to try and prevent such incidents in the future."

The Okinawa Prefectural Police told ABC News that the prosecutors are likely to reach a decision on whether or not to prosecute Hadnott by early March. Hadnott admitted kissing and hugging the girl, but denied the rape allegation.

Two more arrests were made within one week of Hadnott's arrest.

On Monday, 21-year-old Cpl. Shawn Cody Jake was arrested after he was found sleeping on a sofa at a private residence in Nago, central Okinawa Island.

Jake reportedly told police, who arrived at the house after receiving a call from a 54-year-old woman who lives there, that he was intoxicated and did not remember how he'd ended up at the house.

Marine Cpl. Tony Alexander Garcia, 22, was arrested on drunken driving charges Sunday.

Another allegation surfaced this week about a member of the U.S. Army raping a Filipino woman at a hotel in Okinawa City.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...