Japan Calls For Crackdown
On US Military Crime

By Elaine Lies

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan called on the U.S. military on Wednesday to crack down on crimes by servicemen, a day after police issued an arrest warrant for a U.S. Marine for attempted rape on Okinawa, home to most of the U.S. forces in Japan.
The incident may re-ignite resentment of U.S. forces on the tropical island chain, located some 994 miles southwest of Tokyo, as well as sparking renewed calls to revise a key treaty governing U.S. military personnel in Japan.
Anti-American sentiment is also on the rise in neighboring South Korea after a road accident in which a U.S. Army vehicle crushed two schoolgirls to death, prompting calls to revise a similar treaty there.
Tokyo has formally requested that Major Michael J. Brown, 39, be handed over to the Japanese authorities in connection with the incident. The U.S. authorities hope to reach a decision as soon as possible, the Foreign Ministry said.
Brown is alleged to have tried to rape a woman in a car on November 2, but she fought off the attack. Police have declined to give details about the woman, but Kyodo news agency said she was from the Philippines.
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi called on the U.S. military to take steps to prevent similar incidents.
"We must strongly urge that the military improve their attitude and take steps to prevent a recurrence of this sort of crime," he told reporters.
A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo said the incident was being taken very seriously.
"The suspect is in U.S. custody and we are cooperating fully with the Japanese side in the investigation," he added.
Residents of Okinawa have long resented what they see as their unfair burden in hosting 26,000 of the 48,000 U.S. military personnel in the country as part of the U.S.-Japan security alliance, a pillar of Tokyo's postwar foreign policy.
Incidents involving the U.S. military, including the notorious 1995 rape of a 12-year-old Japanese girl by three servicemen, have fanned the resentment and prompted calls to shift the troops elsewhere in Japan or reduce their number, which the central government -- anxious to avoid ruffling bilateral ties -- is in general keen to avoid.
In March this year, U.S. airman Timothy Woodland was found guilty of raping a Japanese woman in June 2001 and sentenced to 32 months in a Japanese jail.
The rape, and Washington's delay in surrendering Woodland to Japanese authorities, soured relations between the two nations and reignited calls for a revision of the Status of Forces Agreement, which governs the conduct of U.S. military in Japan.
Copyright © 2002 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.


This Site Served by TheHostPros