Okinawa police continue to investigate Marine
Stars and Stripes June 15, 2003
CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa — A 21-year-old Marine continued to cooperate with Japanese police Friday even as they press toward a charge of rape.
Japanese police could seek an arrest warrant as early as next week for the Marine — who has not been identified — suspected of raping a 19-year-old Okinawan woman May 25 in Kin.
Okinawa police refused to comment, but local reports said the alleged victim intends to pursue criminal charges against the Marine.
If an arrest warrant is issued, the Marine could be handed over to Japanese authorities. The status of forces agreement allows Japanese authorities to take custody of U.S. servicemembers accused of heinous crimes, even before they are indicted.
The Marine reportedly met the woman at a local bar in Kin and left with her.
He allegedly hit her on the face and raped her in a nearby yard about 3:30 a.m.
She reported the incident to a Camp Hansen gate guard.
Marine officials were unable to add any new information. The incident is still under investigation, said 1st Lt. Amy Malugani, a Marine spokeswoman.
She said Marine authorities and the Marine suspected of the crime are cooperating with investigators.
The allegations prompted U.S. Ambassador to Japan Howard Baker to make a phone call to Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Yukio Takeuchi, an embassy official confirmed Friday.
“We are aware of an alleged incident on Okinawa,” Baker said.
“U.S. military and consular officials are fully cooperating with local authorities investigating this matter. If a crime has occurred, U.S. military officials will work with local authorities to ensure that appropriate action is taken to address accountability.
“This type of behavior, alleged to have been done by our personnel, is never acceptable,” Baker said.
“We deeply regret any suffering by the victim as well as the anxiety caused by the allegation against a servicemember.”
But the allegations already are bringing another chorus of calls for SOFA revisions.
“Such an incident proves the need for changes to SOFA as early as possible,” said Okinawa Gov. Keiichi Inamine, on a tour to speak with other Japanese governors for SOFA-revision support.
“The Okinawa prefecture believes improved administration has limitations, and there is a need for drastic SOFA revision,” said Inamine during a news conference held Friday after his meeting with Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara.
“The governors said they will carry it forward together,” he said. He refused to comment on issues other than his visits.
“It was regrettable,” said Junichiro Koizumi, Japan’s Prime Minister, according to a Kyodo News report.
“I have called for strict discipline on U.S. forces in Japan for a long time to prevent this kind of case.”
However, Koizumi said, it is unlikely the government will meet Okinawa’s immediate request that the Japan-U.S. SOFA be revised, according to the Kyodo report.
— Hana Kusumoto and Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this report.