• Sunday, July 21, 2024
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US airman detained for rape of minor in Japan

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A US airman has been detained for the kidnap and rape of a teenage girl in Okinawa, a Japanese island chain that hosts the region’s largest American military base.

The allegation which involves a minor who is younger than 16, the consent age in Japan has fuelled anger with the locals in the island which is home to more than half of the 53,000 US soldiers serving in Japan.

The 25-year-old Air Force man allegedly assaulted her on December 24 and he was identified through security camera footage after the girls’ family reported it, local media said.

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The BBC reported that he was charged in late March and has been in the custody of Japanese authorities since then, Yoshimasa Hayashi, government spokesman said on Tuesday when he revealed the charges to the public.

“We will continue to request the US side to prevent such incidents at every opportunity,” Hayashi said, adding that US officials were cooperating fully with investigators.

He also said Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has lodged a complaint with the US Ambassador to Japan, Rahm Emmanuel. He added that the first hearing in the case is scheduled for 12 July.

The case is “not just disturbing… but also a violation of the girl’s dignity”, and “brought a significant level of distrust”, Denny Tamaki Okinawa governor said.

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Local media reported that the soldier was off duty when he allegedly approached the girl at a park and asked her to get into his car so they could talk. He then drove her to his home where he allegedly raped her.

Japan hosts one of the world’s largest American military forces outside the US.
About 30,000 American soldiers are stationed across Okinawa, where the US has kept military bases since defeating Japan in World War Two.

The bases have become increasingly strategic for Washington because Okinawa’s proximity to Taiwan allows the US to respond quickly to any Chinese threat.