Protests spreading in Okinawa over alleged rape by U.S. Marine+
Feb 12 09:10 PM US/Eastern
NAHA, Japan, Feb. 13 (AP) - (Kyodo)
Protests continued to spread Wednesday in Okinawa Prefecture in the wake of the alleged rape by a U.S. Marine of a 14-year-old girl over the weekend.
Two local assemblies adopted a joint protest resolution, while Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence, an influential civic group that played a key role in a massive rally in 1995, sent a letter to U.S. President George W. Bush.
Senior Vice Foreign Minister Itsunori Onodera, meanwhile, is slated to meet later in the day with Marine Lt. Gen. Richard Zilmer, who heads the U.S. military in Okinawa, at the Foreign Ministry's office in the prefecture to call for disciplinary and preventive measures.
U.S. Ambassador to Japan Thomas Schieffer will visit the Okinawa prefectural government for talks with Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima in the afternoon to convey regret over the incident, according to prefectural government officials.
In the joint resolution, the assemblies of the town of Chatan, where the alleged rape occurred Sunday night, and the city of Okinawa, where the Marine allegedly met the girl, called for preventive measures, an apology and compensation for the victim.
The women's civic group also called for an apology and compensation in the letter to the U.S. president, while stressing the need to provide mental care to children who have been victims of violence by U.S. military personnel or who have been traumatized by such incidents.
The group also called in the letter for strict punishment of the suspect and for overseeing U.S. military personnel living outside bases.
In 1995, when a 12-year-old girl was raped by three U.S. servicemen in Okinawa, the group called for protest activities at a press conference held three days after the incident came to light.
The group and two other organizations of women successively held protest rallies which eventually coalesced into a single massive demonstration. The protest moves led Japan and the United States to agree the following year to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps' Futemma Air Station and to vacate some other U.S. military facilities in Okinawa.
Uncertainties remain over whether the latest incident will head in the same direction as in 1995.
Suzuyo Takazato, a former Naha assembly member who belongs to the women's group, said, "Things were not planned from the beginning to move that way in 1995."
In the latest case, a 38-year-old staff sergeant at Camp Courtney is suspected of raping the girl inside a car parked on a street by a park in Chatan on Sunday night.
The suspect, identified as Tyrone Hadnott, was arrested Monday by local police and sent to prosecutors on Tuesday. He denies raping the girl, but has admitted to touching her in the vehicle, the police said.