TOKYO — Japanese leaders reacted angrily Friday after the police on Okinawa said a US Air Force serviceman was suspected of breaking into an apartment while drunk and punching a schoolboy, just weeks after two US sailors were accused of raping a woman on the same island.
The trespassing and assault took place early Friday morning, police said. The airman was apparently in violation of a curfew imposed by the US military on its roughly 50,000 military personnel in Japan following the rape accusation. The police did not release the name of the 24-year-old airman, who was hospitalized after falling to the ground from a third-story window.
The episodes have stirred outrage on Okinawa, the southern Japanese island that hosts three-quarters of the US bases in Japan. The episodes also threaten to complicate ties between the United States and its closest Asian ally at a time when both nations are trying to work together to face a growing challenge from China. The episodes have added to Okinawa’s increasingly vocal opposition to what many islanders see as an oversized US base.
The governor of Okinawa, Hirokazu Nakaima, warned that the actions by US servicemen threatened the US-Japan alliance.
“You can only conclude that they are fracturing the alliance,’’ Nakaima was quoted as saying by the daily Asahi Shimbun.
US officials said they would cooperate with the investigation. “We are very upset, and we pledge complete cooperation with the government of Japan in getting to the bottom of this, and preventing future occurrences,’’ the US ambassador to Japan, John V. Roos, said in a statement.
New York Times