NAHA, Okinawa Pref. – The Okinawa Prefectural Assembly passed a resolution Wednesday protesting an indecent act allegedly committed Monday by an Okinawa-based U.S. Marine on a 14-year-old girl in the city of Okinawa.
The resolution, which demands that the Japanese and U.S. governments take measures to prevent any incidents from occurring and strictly enforce discipline among U.S. soldiers, was unanimously approved by the assembly.
On Monday, the police arrested a 19-year-old U.S. Marine, who is based at Futenma Air Station in Ginowan, on suspicion of breaking into a home in the city of Okinawa and molesting a junior high school girl while she slept.
According to investigations, the suspect entered the apartment, where the girl lives with her mother and siblings, at around 4:45 a.m. through an unlocked door.
The mother became aware of his presence and went to a neighbor’s house to call the police.
When officers arrived at the apartment, they found the Marine asleep and arrested him for trespassing and alleged misconduct with the girl.
The Marine, who was drunk at the time, has reportedly told the police he meant to visit his friend’s house and entered the girl’s residence by mistake. He has denied molesting her.
“The frequent crimes committed by U.S. soldiers are causing great anxiety and shock among the people of Okinawa Prefecture,” the assembly’s resolution said.
“The prefectural assembly has been protesting such acts, and it is absolutely unpardonable it has happened again.”
In response to the allegations, Lt. Gen. Earl Hailston issued a statement Wednesday expressing his apologies to the family involved and his regret at the anxiety the incident has created.
“The kind of conduct alleged in this incident is not consistent with the standard of conduct I demand of my Marines, and I take allegations of misconduct by my Marines very seriously,” said Hailston, chief of U.S. forces in Okinawa Prefecture.
Hailston said that he and his staff are “cooperating fully” in the investigation to resolve the incident and that he will instruct his commanding generals to speak to their Marines and reinforce standards of conduct.
“To the people of Okinawa, I want to reiterate . . . my commitment that we will sustain our efforts to be the kind of neighbors you deserve,” he said.
Some 80 members of local civic groups gathered in front of the U.S. Marines’ headquarters in the prefecture to protest the incident.
Okinawa Prefectural Police also submitted a request to Hailston to reinforce discipline, impose a curfew on U.S. soldiers and ban drinking of alcoholic beverages outside bases at late hours.