: Classifieds : MyJU :
Stories: News
Browse News Stories: « Previous Story | Next Story »

Teen rape triggers public anger across Okinawa

Date Posted: 2008-02-14

The Sunday evening reported rape of a 14-year-old girl by a US Marine has spawned a wave of protests across Okinawa, with the Prefecture Governor saying he “could never forgive it”.

Governor Hirokazu Nakaima was speaking out over the arrest of a 38-year-old American Marine on suspicion of raping the schoolgirl after first meeting her in Okinawa City and giving her a ride on his motorcycle. Staff Sergeant Tyrone Hadnott denies raping the girl, but police say he has admitted to forcing the girl down and kissing her.

Many details of the incident are muddled, but Okinawa City Police say Hadnott first approached the girl as she was with friends near Koza Music Town in Okinawa City’s Uechi area about 8:30 p.m. Sunday. She reportedly accepted a ride on Hadnott’s motorcycle with the understanding he would give her a ride home. Instead, police say, Hadnott took the young teen to his home in Kitanakagusuku, where he tried to kiss her.

Frightened and crying, police say, the girl tried to get away, but Hadnutt convinced her he would take her home and she got into his car. Instead of taking her home, he took her to a park in Chatan Town, where police say they believe he raped her inside the parked car. Exact details of what happened are sketchy and sometimes conflicting.
Some reports say the girl called home, while others say her friends made an emergency call to police about 10:20 p.m. Still other accounts are the girl sent text messages on her cell phone, and that her parents called police. The Okinawa City deputy police chief told CNN Tuesday the girl managed to call her friends on her cell phone, and they called police.

Police confirm they were called about 10:30 p.m. with the report of a missing girl, and that they began a search. The girl was found in Chatan Town about 10:50 p.m. and taken into protective custody. Investigators say the 14-year-old described her assailant, his motorcycle and car, and his home near Awase Golf Course. Police have been mum over physical aspects of the case, including information regarding any possible rape tests, or what they found when searching Hadnott’s home and vehicles.

Hadnott, assigned to Camp Courtney, was apprehended about 2 a.m. He has been transferred to a facility in Naha City by Japanese police. Police have told CNN they are planning to file rape charges, despite Hadnott’s statement to them he only intended to kiss the girl. Authorities can hold the Marine for 23 days before filing charges.

Waves of protest were quick in coming from both central government officials and those on Okinawa. Governor Nakaima says “considering the fact the victim is a junior high school student, it is a serious crime.” Okinawa City Mayor Mitsuko Tomon, long an anti-U.S. bases advocate, was angry. “It is absolutely unforgivable such a young child should have gone through such a terrible experience,” she said. Tomon and Chatan Town Mayor Masaharu Noguni presented letters of protest to US authorities in regard to the alleged rape by visiting visited the US military's Okinawa Area Field Office at Camp Zukeran, and the US Consulate General in Urasoe City.

Anger on Okinawa poured onto the streets Tuesday, with more than 300 turning out in front of Camp Butler’s gate. Camp Butler is the Marine Corps Bases headquarters, and members of the Okinawa Peace Campaign Center demanded Marines “Go away from Okinawa”, and “Return Children’s peaceful life.” Protest leader Shiko Sakiyama, in voicing his anger, said “America walked over Okinawan people’s human rights.”

Kosuke Minami, chairman of the Okinawa Workers Association, a group not associated with base workers, echoed calls “We only want the American military to go away from Okinawa.” Politicians Keiko Itokazu and Suzuyo Takazato represented the Okinawa Women’s Union, and the Okinawa Teachers Association Chubu area insisted “We must not make this scandal only a girl’s self blame. It’s all about the American military’s problem.

Japan’s Prime Minister was quick to condemn the incident as “unforgivable” Tuesday. Yasuo Fukuda warned “we take this very seriously,” and told a parliamentary panel “There have been incidents like this in the past, and it is a problem that has occurred again.”

The Foreign Ministry’s director general for North American Affairs took the case to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. Shinichi Nishimiya expressed regrets over the Okinawa incident to the Embassy’s deputy chief of mission. He asked Joseph Donovan to improve discipline within the U.S. forces in Japan to prevent another incident. Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura called the report “extremely regrettable” and immediately turned to Washington to strengthen discipline in Japan.

Lt. Gen. Bruce Wright, the commander of all American forces in Japan, says the U.S. is aware “of the serious allegations in Okinawa,” and noted the situation is being closely monitored “while fully cooperating with Japanese officials.” In a written statement, Wright said “If the allegations are true, our hearts are with the victim and family.”

The Commander of III Marine Expeditionary Force, Lt. Gen. Richard C. Zilmer, and the American Consul General on Okinawa, Kevin Maher, paid visits to Governor Hirokazu Nakaima, offering apologies for the incident. Zilmer pledged to “give strong ethics education and do more to all servicemen under my command.”

Okinawa officials are bracing for protests over the allegations, recalling the 1995 gang rape of a young schoolgirl by three American GI’s. That case stretched thin American-Okinawan relations.

Governor Nakaima predicts there “will naturally be a detrimental effect on the sentiment of Okinawan people,” but said he did not think it would adversely affect the relocation of Futenma Marine Corps Air Station from Ginowan City to the Camp Schwab area in northern Okinawa. “Futenma will be returned to us, and we will be able to utilize it again,” Nakaima emphasized, saying “That’s what counts and this process itself is needed.”

The alleged rape is receiving worldwide coverage in the media. International radio and television networks, and even U-Tube, have been covering the story on a round-the-clock basis.

Browse News Stories: « Previous Story | Next Story »

weather currency health and beauty restaurants Yellowpages JU Blog

JU FacebookOkistyleOkistyle

Go to advertising PDF?||?|o?L?qAE?|?}?OA?N?ga`OkiStyle?A??q?qM?oeu^?I`??N?gX?<eth>?<ETH>?ni^?IWanted!!Golden Kings ScheduleOkiNightSeeker