US military under curfew in Japan after alleged rape

2 sailors accused of assault; case echoes ’95 attack

TOKYO — The US military imposed a curfew on Friday on all of its nearly 50,000 uniformed personnel stationed in Japan, as it tried to respond to outrage over the suspected rape of a woman on Okinawa by two American sailors.

The commander of US forces in Japan, Lieutenant General Salvatore Angelella, apologized for the case, saying that US military personnel will also be required to take ‘‘core values training.’’ Earlier Friday, the US ambassador to Japan told the Japanese defense minister and the governor of Okinawa that the United States would cooperate ‘‘in every way possible’’ with the investigation of the two sailors, who are in Japanese custody.

“I want to personally apologize for the grief and trauma the victim has endured and the anger it has caused among people on Okinawa,’’ Angelella told a news conference at the US Embassy in Tokyo.


He said the curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. would take effect immediately at bases in Okinawa and the rest of Japan.

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Japanese police say the two sailors had been out drinking when they attacked the woman, who is in her 20s, as she walked home before dawn Tuesday. Seaman Christopher Browning and Petty Officer Third Class Skyler Dozierwalker were arrested soon after by Japanese police. The Navy has also launched its own investigation.

The case has struck a nerve in Okinawa, with its uncomfortable echoes of the 1995 gang rape of a schoolgirl by three US servicemen. That crime prompted huge demonstrations that for a time seemed to threaten the entire US military presence on the island.

The current case comes during what is perhaps the largest wave of antibase sentiment on Okinawa since the 1995 rape. Last month, as many as 100,000 demonstrators gathered to protest the deployment of the Marine Corps Osprey aircraft, which many Okinawans see as adding to what is already an unfairly heavy US base presence.

Okinawa hosts more than half of all US military personnel in Japan, a legacy of the United States’ control of the island after World War II.