Two U.S. sailors arrested on suspicion of assaulting woman

October 17, 2012 Ryukyu Shimpo

On October 16, the Okinawa prefectural police arrested two U.S. Navy sailors who belong to Naval Air Station Fort Worth in Texas, on suspicion of a sexual assault on and injury to a woman. The police say that one of the sailors has admitted the acts of violence, stating that they committed the crime, but the other sailor has denied the charges, saying that that is not how it was. In the context of strong protests against the deployment of the MV-22 Osprey vertical take-off and landing transport aircraft, this violent incident is likely to trigger fierce opposition to the U.S. military bases among the Okinawan people.

According to the Okinawa prefectural police, the two sailors were arrested for allegedly having beaten and raped a woman in the central region of the main island. The woman had scratches inflicted on her neck when she was attacked on her way home. She was not acquainted with either of the suspects. Before the incident, the two suspects were drinking a location near the scene of the crime. Police received a report from an acquaintance of the woman, arresting one of the suspects at a lodging facility, and later apprehending the other sailor alleged to be involved in the incident.

According to the U.S. Navy in Japan, the two sailors had been working at Kadena Air Base from October 14 on support service related duty, and were scheduled to move to Guam on October 16.

The Foreign Ministry expressed its “strong regret” to U.S. Ambassador to Japan John V. Roos and requested that discipline be strengthened in order to prevent the recurrence of crimes and incidents by U.S. military personnel.

In an interview with the Ryukyu Shimpo, a spokesperson for the U.S. Navy stated that they will cooperate and support the Okinawan police in conducting their investigation, and that the U.S. Navy takes this case involving alleged misconduct by its personnel seriously. The Pentagon’s spokesperson said the same thing. Police will push ahead with the investigation of the two suspects, including carrying out a DNA test.

Because the woman’s bag was lost at the scene, the police are also looking into the possibility of the crime involving theft and robbery.

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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