Sailors arrested over rape allegations

Posted at 7:27 AM, Oct 17, 2012
and last updated 2012-10-17 13:16:38-04

TOKYO (CNN) — Japanese police have arrested two U.S. sailors over accusations that they raped a woman on the island of Okinawa, where the American military presence has generated long-simmering resentment.

Police in Okinawa identified the detained service members as U.S. Navy Seaman Christopher Daniel Browning and Petty Officer Skyler Dozier Walker of Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth in Texas.

The two men, both 23, are alleged to have raped a Japanese woman in the early hours of Tuesday morning, leaving her with an injury to her neck, police said. They were taken into custody later that day.

Tensions over the American military presence on Okinawa have boiled over before. Many residents were incensed by the rape of a 12-year-old Japanese girl in 1995 by three U.S. military personnel. And allegations that a Marine raped a 14-year-old girl caused a furor in 2008, although the girl decided not to pursue charges.

The U.S. government is “extremely concerned” by the allegations against the two service members, U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos said in a statement Tuesday.

“We are committed to cooperating fully with the Japanese authorities in their investigation,” he said.

Opposition to the presence of U.S. troops in Okinawa runs so deeply that it contributed to the resignation of former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama in 2010. He had promised to move a U.S. base but later announced that it would stay. His critics said at the time that he gave in to U.S. pressure, and his governing coalition broke up.

As well as the cases of misconduct by U.S. troops, some Okinawan residents have complained about issues such as environmental and noise pollution from the American presence.

The United States and Japan announced in April that nearly half the 19,000 U.S. Marines on Okinawa would leave soon and relocate to other areas in the Asia-Pacific region, including Guam, Hawaii and Australia.

Deal withdraws 9,000 Marines from Okinawa