TOKYO – A U.S. Marine accused of raping a 14-year-old girl in southern Japan was arrested Monday, police said, stirring memories of a rape of a Japanese girl by U.S. troops over a decade ago.
Police took custody of Staff Sgt. Tyrone Luther Hadnott, 38, of Camp Courtney in Okinawa, an Okinawa police official said on condition of anonymity citing policy. Hadnott, who has denied the allegations, has not been charged.
Under a mutual security pact, the United States has about 50,000 troops deployed around Japan. Most of them are based on Okinawa and tensions over potential accidents, land use and troop-related crimes are common.
In 1995, the rape of a schoolgirl in Okinawa by three American servicemen sparked large-scale protests. The three served prison terms of six and a half to seven years.
"This is extremely regrettable," said Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura of Monday's arrest. Komura said the government asked Washington to tighten discipline among its troop based in Japan to prevent such crimes in the future. Tokyo has made similar requests in the past.
Hadnott, whose hometown has not been identified, is alleged to have offered to take the girl to her home on his motorbike on Sunday, but instead took her to his house, another local police official told The Associated Press.
When the girl started crying, he said he would drive her home, but he is accused of then raping her in a car, the official said, also speaking on condition of anonymity in line with policy.
Hadnott told investigators he forced the girl down and kissed her, but that he did not rape her, the official said.
Lt. Gen. Bruce Wright, commander of U.S. Forces in Japan, said the U.S. was aware of the "serious allegations in Okinawa."
"[We] are closely monitoring the situation while fully cooperating with Japanese officials," Wright said in a statement. "If the allegations are true, our hearts are with the victim and family."