TOKYO – The U.S. military imposed tight restrictions on all servicemen in Okinawa today, limiting troops to bases, places of work or off-base housing amid a furor over the arrest of a Marine on suspicion of rape.
The order, which also included all the 18,000 Marines based in Japan, was issued as a string of crimes blamed on American servicemen – rape, drunken driving and other allegations – has stoked antimilitary sentiment.
“This period of reflection will allow commanders and all service members an opportunity to further review procedures and orders that govern the discipline and conduct of all U.S. service members serving in Okinawa,” a U.S. military statement read.
Most damaging to the U.S. military’s image in Japan was the arrest last week of 38-year-old Staff Sgt. Tyrone Hadnott in the alleged rape of a 14-year-old girl in Okinawa. The arrest sparked outrage in Japan, which hosts some 50,000 U.S. troops under a security treaty.
Hadnott admitted to investigators that he forced the girl down and kissed her, but said he did not rape her, police said.
The tensions have been compounded in recent days by allegations of additional less serious crimes by American troops, such as drunken driving and trespassing. Japanese leaders have accused the U.S. military of lax discipline.
The new restriction bans military personnel from leaving their bases except for official business, work, worship or travel to and from off-base housing. It applies to all branches of the military in Okinawa, and the Marines throughout the country. Military families and military-linked, expatriate civilians were also included.