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MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan — Four Marines confined to base since last month will not be charged by Japanese prosecutors in the alleged rape of a Japanese woman in Hiroshima, an Iwakuni base official said Thursday.

Public affairs officer Maj. Guillermo Canedo said the Hiroshima prosecutor’s office called the base legal office Thursday and said it will not seek an indictment despite weeks of investigation.

In Japan, criminal indictments carry a 99 percent probability of conviction.

Prosecutors were not available for comment late Thursday, but several local television news stations reported the decision.

The woman told police the four men abducted and raped her in the early morning of Oct. 14 in a Hiroshima neighborhood.

Police questioned the Marines for several days this month in the presence of U.S. military officials and recommended they be indicted for abduction for the purpose of sexual assault, gang-rape and robbery.

Japan never sought arrest warrants for the Marines and they remained in U.S. custody. Police turned the case over to prosecutors last week.

The men have been confined on the base since the allegations surfaced, and all active-duty servicemembers remain under a midnight curfew.

There was no word Thursday whether the U.S. military would take disciplinary action against the four Marines.

The rape case threatens to become a pawn in the debate in Iwakuni over military realignment, which could bring about 4,000 more base residents to the city from Atsugi in coming years.

A recent referendum showed many city residents oppose the expansion, and local politicians quickly pressed for answers to the woman’s claims.

Iwakuni Mayor Ihara Katsusuke, an opponent of realignment, said Thursday the alleged rape made residents fearful of the U.S. military and reminded the city that an American presence can bring crime.

Stars and Stripes reporter Hana Kusumoto contributed to this story.

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