US sailor held for public indecency

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iol pic wld okinawa protest AFP File photo: Civic group members attend a protest over the alleged rape of a local woman by two US servicemen in Okinawa, in front of the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo.

Tokyo -

Two more US servicemen were arrested in Japan on Friday, police said, as anti-American sentiment runs high following the rape of a woman in the southern Japanese island of Okinawa.

Police in Yokohama, south-west of Tokyo, arrested 23-year-old US sailor Oscar Hayes Wiygul III on suspicion of public indecency after he allegedly walked around naked in an Internet cafe.

The sailor is believed to have violated a night-time curfew imposed by the US military on all its servicemen in Japan after two US navy sailors were arrested on charges of raping a woman in Okinawa in October.

That case prompted an outcry in Okinawa, the reluctant host to more than half of the 47 000 military personnel the US has in Japan.

In a separate incident on Friday, police arrested Fernandez Luis, a 27-year-old marine serving at the Futenma Air Base in Okinawa, on suspicion of drunk driving, a local police spokeswoman said.

Luis's arrest came after a Japanese woman complained that her car had been hit by the suspect's car, the spokeswoman said. Jiji Press said the suspect denied the allegations, while no one was injured in the accident.

The latest incidents are likely to further fuel anti-US sentiments in the country, particularly in Okinawa.

Washington sees Okinawa as a vital strategic stronghold in the region, but islanders are fed up with shouldering what they say is a disproportionate burden for the Japan-US relationship.

The incidents also come amid swelling protests over the deployment of Osprey aircraft, with locals voicing concerns about the plane's perceived poor safety record.

In September tens of thousands of people rallied against the tilt-rotor Osprey, which can take off and land like a helicopter and fly like a plane. - Sapa-AFP

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