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U.S. commander in Japan apologizes over rape case

By Elaine Kurtenbach

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 01:32 p.m. HST, Oct 19, 2012

TOKYO » The commander of U.S. forces in Japan apologized today for a case in which two American sailors allegedly raped a woman in Okinawa and said all U.S. military personnel in the country will now be subject to a curfew and other restrictions.

A statement released by U.S. Forces Japan says the 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew will apply to U.S. military personnel whether they are stationed in Japan or just visiting. It requires them to be in their homes, on base or wherever they are lodging.

Lt. Gen. Salvatore Angelella said U.S. military members in Japan also will have to take "core values training." The military's liberty policy is also under review.

Japan's defense minister, Satoshi Morimoto, told reporters earlier today that he was instructed by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, "to fully discuss the matter with the U.S. side and come up with measures to eradicate the problem so that crimes like this are never repeated again."

The two sailors were in Okinawa on a brief stopover and are now in Japanese custody. According to Japanese media, they had been drinking before they attacked the woman, in her 20s, who was on her way home before dawn Tuesday.

The case has drawn protests from the Japanese government and an outcry on Okinawa, where the presence of U.S. military has long been a sore point. The island hosts more than half the 47,000 U.S. troops in Japan.

"I want to personally apologize for the grief and trauma the victim has endured and the anger it has caused among the people of Okinawa," Angelella told reporters.

Angelella said American military personnel are "held to a higher standard."

Both he and U.S. Ambassador to Japan John V. Roos said the U.S. will cooperate in the Okinawan police investigation. Roos said the U.S. government viewed the situation with "utmost seriousness."

"We will put forward every effort to make sure that incidents like this do not happen," Roos said.

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service has begun its own investigation, although Japan has primary jurisdiction.

Seaman Christopher Browning of Athens, Texas, and Petty Officer 3rd Class Skyler Dozierwalker of Muskogee, Okla., were arrested Tuesday. Both are 23, joined the military in 2008 and are assigned to Joint Naval Air Station, Fort Worth, Texas.

The latest case has inflamed chronic tensions between the U.S. military and Okinawa over base-related crimes and other issues. Okinawans also have been protesting plans to deploy the Marine Corps' MV-22 Osprey to a base there because of safety concerns.

Local opposition to the U.S. bases over noise, safety concerns and crime flared into mass protests after the 1995 rape of a schoolgirl by three American servicemen. That outcry eventually led to an agreement to close a major Marine airfield, but that plan has stalled for more than a decade over where a replacement facility should be located.

Associated Press writer Mari Yamaguchi contributed to this report.

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808Cindy wrote:
Any where, the crime of rape is against all of us! I get sick to my stomach, to think if this were to happen to my family or any of my friends. I pray that God bring his comfort to the victim, her family and community.
on October 19,2012 | 08:26AM
nitpikker wrote:
apparently whatever punishment has been levied in the past has not been a deterrent to these crimes.
on October 19,2012 | 08:38AM
kennie1933 wrote:
I've read similar articles on national websitesthat allow comments, and a LOT of people are saying that the Japanese (Okinawans) should not complain so much because they NEED America in their region to be a deterrent to China who, admittedly, has been shaking their sabre at Japan for years but nowadays more severely. While the deterrent argument may be true, that does not also give our troops the right to rape their citizens. Plus it leaves a black mark on ALL Americans whether we like it or not. Others agrue that considering ALL the rapes that occur in Japan, Americans account for less than 1%, but what their citizens do is their problem to solve. What OUR citizens do IS our problem, and if we want respect from the rest of the world, we need to earn it.
on October 19,2012 | 09:49AM
serious wrote:
kennie1933, I was stationed in Japan in the 50's and have a ton of respect for those people, but I don't like our commander apologizing, like our President for every action that happens. Things do happen--these are young people. You can't be with them 24/7. Their problem with China--China has a long memory--the horrible things the Japs did to the Chinese in the 30's and 40's--I can't imagine the retaliation they could get.
on October 19,2012 | 10:25AM
BigOpu wrote:
serious...You serious? Apologizing is the least we can do. How can you start your opinion by saying you "have a ton of respect for those people"...then refer to Okinawans (those people) as Japs, and say the crime of ultimate disrepect is not worthy of an apology? Your values are off old man.
on October 19,2012 | 10:51AM
waverider808 wrote:
thank you big opu for saying what i was gonna say but in not in the diplomatic way you did. i would have gotten in the gutter with serious for using such a derogatory a term as "Japs."
on October 19,2012 | 11:39AM
serious wrote:
Read your history of what those Japs did to the Chinese civilians!!!
on October 19,2012 | 02:45PM
false wrote:
serious old timer. I guess you've conveniently forgotten that the U.S. was one of the worst offenders of human rights. Atrocities committed by whites against black slaves including rapes, beatings, imprisonment. Why do you think there are so many light skinned Afro Americans? Maybe by comfort women? Stationed at Biloxi years ago.
on October 19,2012 | 04:51PM
sailfish1 wrote:
The U.S. needs to make sure that these two (if found guilty) are given very severe punishment. The punishment needs to be at least what an they would get if they had raped a 20 year old American girl, and maybe more. Why does the U.S. need to have bases all over the world anyway? Are there Russian, Chinese, North Korean, Iranian, etc. bases everywhere? I don't think so.
on October 19,2012 | 10:25AM
hanoz808 wrote:
on October 19,2012 | 10:57AM
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