TOKYO – The U.S. military will slap a curfew on all troops in Okinawa, their families and civilian staff Wednesday following the arrest of a Marine on suspicion of raping a 14-year-old girl, a news report said.
Kyodo News agency said the restriction, which would extend a midnight curfew now imposed only on enlisted Marines, would take effect early Wednesday morning. The report cited Japanese Foreign Ministry officials.
Neither the Foreign Ministry nor the U.S. Forces Japan answered their phones before business hours early Wednesday morning. U.S. military, officials, however, said last week that tighter curfews were being considered.
The arrest last week of Staff Sgt. Tyrone Luther Hadnott, 38, a Marine from Camp Courtney in Okinawa, in the alleged rape of a young girl has sparked outrage in Japan, which hosts some 50,000 U.S. troops under a security treaty.
Hadnott admitted to investigators that he forced the girl down and kissed her, but said he did not rape her, police said.
The tensions have been compounded in recent days by allegations of additional less serious crimes by American troops. Japanese leaders have deplored the behavior and accused the U.S. military of lax discipline.
Kyodo reported that the curfew would affect all U.S. military personnel on the island starting at 2230 GMT Tuesday. The report did not say during what hours the curfew would limit troops to their bases or how long it would last.
On Tuesday, U.S. Forces Japan, which launched a review of anti-sexual assault guidelines following Hadnott's arrest, said it had designated Friday as a "day of reflection" to urge troops to adhere to ideals of professionalism.
"USFJ has generated recommendations and reached a mutual agreement that all USFJ components will take additional actions to further reinforce and encourage the already high standards of professionalism among US Forces serving in Japan," the military said in a statement without elaborating. There was no mention of a curfew.
Okinawa is considered a linchpin in U.S. military posture in Asia, and Washington is eager to quell rising sentiment against American troops. U.S. Ambassador Thomas Schieffer traveled to Okinawa last week to express his sadness over the alleged rape.
The rape case has prompted comparisons to the 1995 rape of a 12-year-old Okinawan girl by three U.S. servicemen. The attack triggered massive protests against the American military, and the three men were convicted and sentenced to prison.