The US military is investigating another allegation that a soldier sexually assaulted a woman on the southern island of Okinawa, as Washington and Tokyo strive to keep anger over crimes by US troops from damaging broader ties.
In the latest incident, Kyodo news agency reported yesterday that the US military had taken a soldier into custody earlier this month over an alleged sexual assault on a Philippine woman in Okinawa, home to the bulk of US forces in Japan.
"We know about this allegation and are in full cooperation with host nation authorities," said US Forces Japan spokesman Colonel Eric Schnaible in an email. "We take this allegation very seriously and the Army does not tolerate sexual assault."
Okinawa police declined to comment on Kyodo's report that they planned to seek an arrest warrant for the soldier soon.
Last week, a 38-year-old Marine, Tyrone Hadnott, was arrested on suspicion of raping a 14-year-old girl on Okinawa, an incident that has rekindled memories of the 1995 rape of a 12-year-old girl on the island.
That episode sparked huge protests against the US bases on the island, where residents have long worried about crime associated with the American military presence.
Hadnott has denied rape but admitted forcing her to kiss him.
The US military on Wednesday slapped a 24-hour curfew on troops on the island and at another Marine base in Iwakuni, southwestern Japan, that bans them from leaving their homes or bases except to go to school, to worship or visit a doctor.
The move followed the arrest of two Marines on Okinawa at the weekend, one accused of trespassing and the other of drink driving.
Four Marines at Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station are also being investigated for allegedly raping a young woman last October and could face court martial for the crime.
Rape charges in ROK
In the Republic of Korea (ROK), a US soldier stationed in the country is under investigation on allegations that he sexually assaulted a 19-year-old local girl, the ROK's Yonhap News Agency reported yesterday.
The US soldier, who was identified as a private first class, was alleged to rape a 19-year-old ROK girl in Seoul on Wednesday after meeting her through an Internet site.
Spokesman for the US Force Korea (USFK) Kim Young-kyu told Yonhap that the USFK is cooperating fully with ROK authorities in the investigation of the incident.
About 28,000 US troops are stationed in the ROK.
In November last year, six US soldiers were arrested by local police after beating an ROK female in a restaurant in South Korea's Daegoo city.
In January last year, a US soldier was arrested by local police after raping a 67-year-old ROK woman in Seoul.
Source: China Daily/Agencies