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U.S. Marines Issued Strict Rules

July 7, 2000

OKINAWA CITY, Japan (AP) _ No liquor, a strict curfew, and uniforms at all times: Those are the temporary rules laid down for U.S. Marines on Okinawa after a serviceman was charged with molesting a 14-year-old girl in her own bed.

The commander of the Marine Corps announced the rules Friday, saying they are meant to guarantee security during the Group of Eight summit of industrial nations on Okinawa from July 21-23. He said they were discussed before the 19-year-old U.S. Marine was arrested Monday.

However, the curfew and alcohol ban were not imposed on the Air Force, Army or Navy units on this southern Japanese island, said Eudith Rodney, chief spokeswoman for U.S. forces in Japan.

The new rules come amid intense local anger over the molestation case. Okinawans have held several small protests and rallies in recent days, and the Marine commander, Lt. Gen. Earl B. Hailston, has met with top elected officials in Okinawa and apologized.

The case that started the uproar centers around a Marine lance corporal based at Futenma Marine Corps Air Station.

Police say the Marine is suspected of wandering into an unlocked apartment in Okinawa City and creeping into the bed of the junior high school student. The girl’s mother, awakened by her screams, says she found the drunk, half-naked Marine on top of the girl, kissing and fondling her.

The woman took her daughter from the room and called police, who reporting finding the Marine asleep in the girl’s bed. The serviceman’s name was withheld by police because people under age 20 are considered minors in Japan. The military has declined to identify him.

On Monday, police charged the serviceman with indecency and unlawful entry _ charges that carry up to seven years in prison.

Under a mutual security treaty between Japan and the United States, about 47,000 U.S. military service people are stationed in Japan, nearly two-thirds of them in Okinawa.

Resentment of the U.S. presence on this island 1,000 miles southwest of Tokyo is already substantial, with Okinawans complaining about congestion, noise and crime. The trouble was exacerbated by the 1995 rape of a 12-year-old girl by two Marines and a Navy seaman. That crime sparked widespread demonstrations, and the men were convicted.

``GIs get drunk on the cheap liquor in the military clubs and they come off base and start problems, especially involving women,″ 75-year-old shop owner Naoshi Katsuta said Friday.

Friday’s new Marine rules are meant to curtail problems, at least during the G-8 summit. They are stricter than a 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. curfew the military leveled on its forces here after the 1995 rape and kept in place until last fall.

Under the new rules, all Marines and sailors attached to the eight U.S. Marine bases in Okinawa will be forbidden to drink alcohol, on or off base, from July 20 to July 24. The service members will be required to wear their uniforms wherever they are.

From July 14-24, all Marines will be required to remain on their bases, or in their off-base homes, in Okinawa after midnight. They will only be able to leave after about 7:30 a.m.

When President Clinton arrives at the G-8 summit, he is expected to thank Okinawans for hosting the thousands of U.S. soldiers stationed here. Nonetheless, the molestation case could increase the intensity of demonstrations against the U.S. military presence.

On Friday, a Tokyo-based feminist group, the Federation of Japanese Women’s Organizations, demanded a cut in U.S. military bases on Okinawa.

``The recurrence of such unforgivable crimes by U.S. soldiers is extremely upsetting,″ the group’s president, Fuki Kushida, said in a statement. ``As long as U.S. bases exist there, our fear will never end and violence against women will continue.″

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