• Kyodo

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Okinawa police said Thursday they are questioning a U.S. Marine on suspicion of raping a local woman in May.

The 21-year-old lance corporal is being questioned on a voluntary basis about the alleged rape of a 19-year-old woman in the town of Kin. Police said they plan to ask a court to issue an arrest warrant for him as early as next week.

They said the U.S. serviceman has confessed to the rape.

The U.S. military notified Japanese police after the woman’s friend reported the incident to U.S. Camp Hansen, which is in Kin.

Under the Japan-U.S. Status of Force Agreement, which governs the management and operation of U.S. forces in Japan, the U.S. military is not required to hand over suspects in criminal cases to Japanese police before they are indicted.

But following the rape of a 12-year-old girl by three U.S. servicemen in 1995, the United States agreed to give “sympathetic consideration” to the handover of suspects in serious crimes, such as murder and rape, and in other specific cases, before charges are filed.

Under the agreement, police are expected to ask the U.S. military to hand over the marine as soon as the warrant is issued.

According to police, the serviceman hit the woman in the face and raped her at around 3:30 a.m. May 25 in a residential area in Kin. They had met at a restaurant in the town.

It is not known where the serviceman is stationed.

Lt. Gen. Wallace Gregson, the top commander of the U.S. forces in Okinawa, said Thursday in a public announcement issued by the U.S. Marine Corps: “The type of behavior alleged is completely unacceptable. We will assist the local authorities as much as possible. We sincerely regret the anxiety this incident has caused the local community.

“U.S. military officials are fully cooperating with Japanese authorities to determine the facts and circumstances of an alleged rape involving a U.S. service member.

“U.S. forces have worked closely with local law enforcement authorities since the allegations were first made. The service member in question has cooperated with U.S. and Japanese officials, and is currently in U.S. custody.”

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