- 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.
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