TOKYO – Senior Japanese officials expressed anger Tuesday after the arrest of a U.S. Marine accused of raping a 14-year-old girl on the southern island of Okinawa, with the prime minister calling the situation "unforgivable."
Officials demanded the U.S. ensure greater discipline among its forces. U.S. troops' conduct in Japan is often a source of tension, especially since 1995, when another rape case involving U.S. servicemen enraged the population.
Staff Sgt. Tyrone Luther Hadnott, a 38-year-old Marine from Camp Courtney in Okinawa, has been accused of attacking the girl in a parked car Sunday night.
He has not been charged, but was transferred from police custody to prosecutors Tuesday, an official from the Naha District Public Prosecutors Office said on condition of anonymity, citing policy. The Marine's hometown has not been released.
The allegations have stirred anger on Okinawa, where the U.S. has several military bases and three American servicemen raped a 12-year-old girl in 1995. That rape triggered massive protests against the military presence on the island.
Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda asked during a session of the Diet, Japan's parliament, for action to prevent future crimes.
"This is unforgivable," Fukuda said. "The government will firmly negotiate with the U.S. We have to first find out what happened."
Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura said the alleged attack could "complicate" disputes over American bases. He did not elaborate.
"There is the sense that we've had enough," Komura said. "We called on the U.S. to strengthen discipline and prevent crimes from happening again."
Joseph R. Donovan Jr., the U.S. Embassy's deputy chief of mission, was asked to the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday. Vice Foreign Minister Mitoji Yabunaka told him the incident was "deplorable" and reiterated Tokyo's call for tighter troop discipline, the ministry said in a statement.
"I said this is an extremely regrettable case and that we take it very, very seriously," Donovan told reporters afterward. "I pledged our complete cooperation with the ongoing investigation of the Japanese authorities."
According to Japanese police, the girl met Hadnott on Sunday and accepted a ride on his motorbike after he offered to take her home. The Marine is alleged to have taken her to his house instead.
When the teenager started crying, he said he would drive her home, and it was at that point that the girl says he raped her in a car, a police official said on condition of anonymity, citing policy.
Under a mutual security pact, the United States has about 50,000 troops deployed around Japan. Most of them are based on Okinawa, where tensions there over troop-related crime and disputes over land use are common.
Although the marine's arrest has been top news in Japan, there was no sign of unrest or protests in Okinawa. The three Americans convicted of rape in 1995 each served prison terms of six and a half to seven years.