TOKYO Oct 19 The commander of U.S. Forces Japan
imposed a night curfew on military personnel on Friday after two
U.S. servicemen were arrested on suspicion of raping a Japanese
woman on the southern island of Okinawa.
The arrests come at a time when public opinion in Okinawa is
at odds with Tokyo for allowing the U.S. deployment of Osprey
hybrid aircraft on the island despite lingering concerns about
Friction over U.S. bases on Okinawa intensified after the
1995 rape of a 12-year-old Japanese schoolgirl by three U.S.
servicemen. The case sparked widespread protests by Okinawans,
who had long resented the American presence due to crime, noise
and deadly accidents.
"I want to personally apologise for the grief and trauma the
victim has endured and the anger it has caused among people in
Okinawa," Lieutenant-General Salvatore Angelella told reporters.
"I am immediately issuing a curfew to all military personnel
in Japan, both temporary and assigned."
All personnel will be confined to base from 11 p.m. until 5
a.m. He did not say how long the curfew would be in effect.
The arrests coincide with a sharp deterioration in Japan's
relations with China over a disputed East China Sea island chain
that makes it strategically important for Tokyo to reaffirm its
alliance with the United States.
Japanese Defence Minister Satoshi Morimoto vowed to press
the United States on discipline. Okinawa Governor Hirokazu
Nakaima described the rape as "madness".
The U.S. military said on Thursday it would soon announce
measures to ensure responsible behaviour by troops on Okinawa.
(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Nick Macfie)