A US marine was arrested yesterday for allegedly raping a Japanese schoolgirl in Okinawa, but the suspect denied he raped the teenager, police said.
Police officers arrested Tyrone Luther Hadnott, a 38-year-old marine of Camp Courtney in Okinawa on a charge of raping the 14-year-old girl, an Okinawan police official said.
The arrest stirred memories of mass protests in Okinawa in 1995 following the rape of another schoolgirl by three US servicemen.
Hadnott, whose hometown was not immediately available, is accused of attacking the girl in a parked car in a town in central Okinawa on Sunday evening, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, citing policy.
Okinawan police took the marine into custody for investigation, he said. Hadnott has not been charged.
"I can never forgive such a crime, especially when the victim is a junior high school student," Okinawan Governor Hirokazu Nakaima said. "I feel anger."
"This is extremely regrettable," said Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura.
Tokyo has asked Washington to tighten discipline among its troop based in Japan to prevent such crimes from taking place, Komura said.
Another local police official said that the girl met Hadnott, a Marine staff sergeant, on Sunday and accepted a ride on his motorbike after he offered to take her home.
The Marine took her to his house instead. When the teenager started crying he said he would drive her home and it is at this point that the girl claims he raped her in a car, the official said on condition of anonymity, citing policy.
Hadnott told investigators he forced the girl down and kissed her, but that he did not rape her, the official said.
"We [became] aware of the serious allegations in Okinawa overnight and are closely monitoring the situation while fully cooperating with Japanese officials," Lieutenant General Bruce Wright, commander of US Forces in Japan, said in a statement.
"If the allegations are true, our hearts are with the victim and family," he said.
Under a mutual security pact, the US has about 50,000 troops deployed around Japan.
Most of them are based on Okinawa and tensions there over troop-related crime and disputes over land use are endemic.
Although the marine's arrest has been top news in Japan, there was no sign of unrest or protests yesterday, a national holiday.
The three American servicemen convicted of rape in 1995 each served prison terms of six to seven years.
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