Alleged rape in Okinawa sees curfew imposed on US military in Japan

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 20 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 20 October, 2012, 12:12pm

The US military said yesterday it was imposing a curfew on all military personnel in Japan after two servicemen allegedly raped a local woman in Okinawa.

From 11pm to 5am all the approximately 47,000 members of the US armed forces stationed in Japan must stay on base or in their homes. The curfew began last night, with no end date given.

"I'm immediately issuing a curfew to all military personnel in Japan, both temporary and assigned," Salvatore Angelella, the Commander of US Forces in Japan, said.

He said "core value retraining" would also take place and commanders would be reviewing policies on leave.

"Japan is one of our greatest allies, most trusted partners and the cornerstone of peace and stability in the Pacific. We'll continue to do all we can to ensure the US-Japan relationship remains strong," Angelella said.

The announcement came after the arrest of two sailors on Tuesday over the alleged rape of a local woman, a potential flashpoint in relations between the US military and their reluctant Okinawan hosts.

Around half of all Japan-based personnel and the majority of US bases are in Okinawa, an island chain where anti-American feelings are easily stirred.

Previous criminal incidents associated with the bases have sparked large-scale demonstrations, with protesters demanding a trimming of the US footprint. The US has moved quickly to try to hose down the latest episode.

US Ambassador to Japan John Roos said: "The United States will co-operate in every way possible with the Japanese authorities to address this terrible situation.

"I understand the anger that many people feel. I have a 25-year-old daughter myself, so this is very personal to me."

Okinawa police said they arrested Christopher Browning and Skyler Dozier Walker, both 23, on charges of raping and injuring the woman on Tuesday, hours before they had reportedly planned to leave the island.