An international dispute has sparked between Japan and the United States after a Muskogee sailor confessed to taking part in the rape of Japanese woman earlier this week.
Japan's defense minister said he was deeply concerned by allegations that two American military servicemen had raped a woman on the island of Okinawa and suggested that the US take more measures to prevent such attacks.
"This is an extremely heinous and despicable crime," Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto told Okinawa Governor Kazuhiro Nakaima and reporters on Wednesday.
Morimoto said the case followed another sexual assault in August, and he indicated he was considering discussing the matter with US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
The sailors were identified as Seaman Christopher Browning and Petty Officer 3rd Class Skyler Dozierwalker of the Fort Worth Naval Air Base in Texas.
According to Japanese media, they had been drinking before they attacked the woman, in her 20s, who was on her way home before dawn on Tuesday.
The two were in Japanese police custody, according to Okinawa Prefectural Police spokesman.
Later Tuesday, police handed over investigation to prosecutors to decide whether to press formal charges.
Browning and Dozierwalker are both 23 and enlisted in 2008. They were assigned to the Fort Worth base the same year.
John Roos, US Ambassador to Japan, held talks with the Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Shuji Kira to discuss the alleged incident.
"This is a very serious matter and it is the full intent of the United States government to provide full and complete and unequivocal cooperation to the Japanese authorities in their investigation of this matter," Roos told reporters on Wednesday.
The arrests sparked immediate anger on Okinawa, which hosts more than half of the 47-thousand US troops in Japan and has recently seen massive protests against plans to deploy the Marine Corps' MV-22 Ospreys to a base there because of safety concerns.
Tensions between the US military and their Okinawa hosts are endemic, and base-related crimes are a particularly sensitive issue.
Local opposition to the US bases over noise, safety concerns and crime flared into mass protests after the 1995 rape of a schoolgirl by three American servicemen.
That outcry eventually led to an agreement to close a major Marine airfield, but that plan has stalled for more than a decade over where a replacement facility should be located.
Stay tuned with Channel 8 and KTUL.com as we follow this incident.
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