TOKYO, Japan (AP) -- The U.S. military imposed tight restrictions on all personnel in Okinawa on Wednesday, limiting troops to bases, places or work or off-base housing, amid a furor over the arrest of a Marine on suspicion of rape.
Japanese protesters shout slogans last week in front of a U.S. camp on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa.
The restriction, which tightens a midnight curfew for enlisted on the southern Japanese island, started early Wednesday and was indefinite, the U.S. Forces Japan said in a statement.
The arrest last week of 38-year-old Staff Sgt. Tyrone Luther Hadnott in the alleged rape of a 14-year-old girl in Okinawa has sparked outrage in Japan, which hosts some 50,000 U.S. troops under a security treaty.
The Marine 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. Japanese leaders have deplored the behavior and accused the U.S. military of lax discipline.
The new restrictions bans military personnel from leaving their bases except for official business, work, worship or travel to and from off-base housing.
"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," the military statement read.
On Tuesday, the U.S. military, which launched a review of anti-sexual assault guidelines following Hadnott's arrest, said it had designated Friday as a "day of reflection" to urge troops to adhere to ideals of professionalism.
"USFJ has generated recommendations and reached a mutual agreement that all USFJ components will take additional actions to further reinforce and encourage the already high standards of professionalism among US Forces serving in Japan," the military said in a separate statement on Tuesday.
Okinawa is considered a linchpin in U.S. military posture in Asia, and Washington is eager to quell rising sentiment against American troops. U.S. Ambassador Thomas Schieffer traveled to Okinawa last week to express his sadness over the alleged rape.
The Hadnott case has prompted comparisons with the 1995 rape of a 12-year-old Okinawan girl by three U.S. servicemen. The attack triggered massive protests against the American military, and the three were convicted and sentenced to prison. E-mail to a friend
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