Japan Today & World Bulletin & Mainichi Daily News – 2008-02-12 22:16:40
Outrage in Okinawa: US Marine Accused of Raping Schoolgirl
Anger, anxiety spreading in Okinawa after alleged rape; kids told not to walk to school alone
NAHA (February 12, 2008) — Anxiety and anger spread among residents of Okinawa Prefecture on Tuesday in the wake of the previous day’s arrest of a US Marine for allegedly raping a 14-year-old girl from a local junior high school.
The assembly in the capital city of Naha unanimously approved a resolution protesting the incident with Japan and the United States and calling on them to launch a full-scale probe into the case, take preventive measures and offer apologies.
In the meantime, teachers at a junior high school in the town of Chatan, where the alleged incident took place, told students to never come to school unaccompanied and always stay with schoolmates.
“I feel resentment over the incident,” the school’s vice principal said. “Local communities here live among the US military and US soldiers, and that makes us worry about our safety.”
“The military forces should enhance their moral education,” said the vice principal.
The alleged rape involving a 38-year-old staff sergeant at Camp Courtney has revived local residents’ horrific memories of the 1995 rape of a 12-year-old schoolgirl by three US servicemen, leading to a protest against the heavy US military presence in the small southernmost island prefecture.
Teachers, along with parents, will make rounds of the district during afternoon hours when children are going home.
Meanwhile, in the city of Okinawa, where the suspect allegedly first talked to the girl, a female company employee, 35, said, “I can’t believe how such a thing could be done to a child. It’s unforgivable. I never want to see something like this happen again.”
A 40-year-old housewife who lives in the city and has a daughter in junior high school said she ordered her daughter, “Don’t go out at night in this area.”
But a 41-year-old local business operator said, “I don’t think this incident will directly worsen local sentiment toward US military bases, because it is a matter of personal integrity.”
The 1995 rape resulted in Japan and the United States agreeing the following year to relocate the US Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station and vacate some other US facilities, although the plan remains to be implemented due to resistance among residents at the relocation site.
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Japan Prime Minister:
US Soldiers Rape Case “Unforgiveable”
(12 February 2008) — Tyrone Hadnott, based at Camp Courtney marine base on the island, was arrested on Monday on suspicion of raping the schoolgirl when the two were in a car on Sunday. Japanese media said the 38-year-old had denied raping the girl but acknowledged forcing her to kiss him.
“It is unforgiveable,” Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda told a parliamentary panel in his first public comments on the latest incident on Okinawa, host to a huge US military presence. “It has happened over and over again in the past and I take it as a grave case.”
Japan hosts about 50,000 US troops, most of them in Okinawa, where many residents have long resented bearing what they see as an unfair share of the burden for the bilateral security alliance, a pillar of Japan’s post-war diplomacy.
US military bases in Japan have long caused complaints from local residents about crime, noise and accidents. In 1995, the rape of a 12-year-old Japanese schoolgirl by three US servicemen sparked huge protests in Okinawa, triggering calls for the US military to leave the island and raising questions about the security alliance itself.
“It is truly deplorable that an American serviceman was arrested for these allegations despite the fact that major incidents have occurred in the past and the government has repeatedly urged the US side to … take preventative measures,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura told reporters.
US officials have responded quickly to mitigate fallout from the case, which comes as Tokyo tries to persuade Okinawa residents to accept a plan to relocate the Marine’s Futenma Air Station from the densely populated central Okinawa city of Ginowan to the coastal city of Nago.
“Obviously, the US military is cooperating with the Okinawan authorities who are investigating this,” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said in Washington, adding that the Marine was presumed innocent until proven guilty.
“But in any serious allegation like this we take it very seriously and are cooperating fully with the local authorities,” he said, echoing comments by US military officials in Japan. Whitman said the incident should not affect US-Japan security ties.
The Futenma base move, agreed by Tokyo and Washington in 2006, is a linchpin of a broader accord to rejig US troops in Japan and is a prerequisite for moving about 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam. Japanese media say Nago officials have accepted the relocation plan in principle but have opposed some details.
US Ambassador Visits Okinawa after
Alleged Rape of Schoolgirl by American Marine
Mainichi Daily News
TOKYO (AP) — The US ambassador went to Okinawa on Wednesday to quell rising anger over the arrest of an American Marine on suspicion of raping a 14-year-old schoolgirl — the type of crime that sparked massive protests against the US military in the 1990s.
Ambassador Thomas Schieffer was to meet with Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima later in the day to express US concern over the case and offer cooperation in the investigation, in line with comments from other US officials in Japan and Washington, the US Embassy said.
Staff Sgt. Tyrone Luther Hadnott, a 38-year-old Marine from Camp Courtney in Okinawa, was arrested Monday over the alleged attack on the schoolgirl the night before. The case prompted comparisons with the rape of a 12-year-old girl in Okinawa in 1995 by three US servicemen.
Top Japanese officials have expressed their consternation over the persistence of US-base related crimes in Japan. Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda called the latest attack “unforgivable” on Tuesday, and called for tighter discipline among American soldiers.
Okinawa, which hosts a majority of the 50,000 US troops based in Japan, is considered a linchpin in the American military posture in Asia, and US officials have been eager to avoid a damaging spike in anti-US military sentiment on the island. Okinawans have long complained of soldier-committed crimes.
Military officials have expressed their regret over the case and pledged cooperation. Prosecutors took over the case on Tuesday, a move that allows authorities to hold Hadnott for another 20 days before formally charging him.
Hadnott’s hometown has not yet been released.
Schieffer was to meet with American military officials in Okinawa before heading back to Tokyo later in the day for talks with Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura, who on Tuesday said “we’ve had enough” of US base-related crime.
About 250 people gathered to protest in front of the US Marines headquarters in Okinawa on Tuesday, Japanese daily Mainichi reported.
Japanese police say the girl met Hadnott on Sunday and accepted a ride on his motorbike after he offered to take her home. The marine took her to his house instead. When the teenager started crying he said he would drive her home, and it is at this point the girl claims he raped her in a car, a police official said on condition of anonymity, citing policy.
Hadnott told investigators he forced the girl down and kissed her, but he did not rape her, the official said.
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