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Police Get Arrest Warrant for U.S. Marine Accused of Okinawa Rape

June 16, 2003|From Associated Press

TOKYO — Japanese police obtained an arrest warrant today for a U.S. Marine accused of beating and raping a woman on the southern island of Okinawa, officials said.

The alleged attack against the 19-year-old woman spurred Japan's prime minister to call Friday for stricter discipline among U.S. forces in Japan.

The suspect is a 21-year-old Marine lance corporal at Camp Hansen in Okinawa, home to more than half of the 47,000 U.S. troops stationed in Japan. The attack allegedly took place about 3:30 a.m. on May 25 in the town of Kin, according to a statement released last week by the Marines at Camp Butler.

The woman suffered a broken nose and sexual assaults, prefectural (state) police spokesman Shinpachi Higashizato said.

Police say the suspect admitted punching the woman in an alley but denied raping her, saying the sex was consensual, Kyodo News service reported. They had earlier met at a bar, Kyodo said.

Higashizato did not say when police planned to make the arrest.

Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi telephoned U.S. Ambassador to Japan Howard H. Baker Jr. today and asked that the U.S. military fully cooperate with Japanese authorities and impose stricter discipline.

"It is extremely regrettable that the arrest warrant was issued to a marine soldier on suspicion of such a serious crime as rape," Kawaguchi said in a statement.

Okinawa police were questioning the suspect, who is under U.S. military custody, on a voluntary basis, Higashizato said.

The handling of military suspects is a sensitive issue on Okinawa. In 1995, the rape of a local schoolgirl involving three U.S. servicemen triggered outrage.

Japanese authorities have jurisdiction over this case because it allegedly occurred off base. But under a bilateral agreement, the U.S. military is not required to hand over suspects until they are indicted. The military can agree to do so on a case-by-case basis. Kawaguchi said she planned to press the U.S. military to hand over the suspect before indictment, and added the ministry dispatched a top official to Okinawa to handle the case.

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