US serviceman apologises for Japan boy assault
Agence France-Presse in Tokyo
A US serviceman who allegedly hit a Japanese schoolboy in the face after drunkenly breaking into his home in Okinawa has apologised, an official said on Monday.
The 24-year-old, who belongs to the US Air Force’s Kadena base, met with the boy’s parents on Saturday afternoon in the village of Yomitan, central Okinawa, the village official said, at a time of heightened anti-US feeling there.
The man, whose name was withheld, allegedly broke into an apartment and hit the 13-year-old after drinking in a village pub during curfew hours.
“Accompanied by his seniors, the man told the parents that he did something inexcusable and said he was very sorry,” the official said.
“The parents told him that they want him to stand trial in a Japanese court, and the man replied that he is ready to do so,” the official said, adding that the boy listened to the conversation on a monitor from a different room.
The US serviceman still lives on the base but has submitted to questioning by Japanese police, who have yet to issue an arrest warrant.
US top brass imposed a country-wide night-time curfew on all military in Japan after two servicemen were arrested on charges of raping a Japanese woman in Okinawa in October.
That case prompted an outcry in Okinawa, the reluctant host to more than half of the 47,000 military personnel the US has in Japan.
Washington sees the island as a vital strategic stronghold in the region, but islanders are fed up with shouldering what they say is a disproportionate burden for the Japan-US relationship.
The alleged incidents come amid swelling protests over the deployment of Osprey aircraft, with locals voicing concerns about the plane’s perceived poor safety record.
In September tens of thousands of people rallied against the tilt-rotor Osprey, which can take off and land like a helicopter and fly like a plane.