TOKYO — Japan lodged a protest with the United States on Wednesday over the alleged rape of a Japanese woman by two U.S. sailors on Okinawa, an island that long has bristled about the heavy American military presence there.
The sailors, identified as Seaman Christopher Browning and Petty Officer 3rd Class Skyler Dozierwalker, both 23, of the Fort Worth Naval Air Station in Texas, were arrested Tuesday.
The woman, in her 20s, was allegedly attacked while walking home early Tuesday. The men had been drinking beforehand, Japanese media reported.
The allegation, described by Japanese Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto as “very serious,” appears likely to complicate the long-standing efforts by Tokyo and Washington to build a new U.S. Marine base on Okinawa, a step that island residents have fiercely resisted.
With the two sailors in the custody of Okinawan police, a Japanese Foreign Ministry official summoned U.S. Ambassador John V. Roos to a meeting and asked for stricter discipline of American military personnel on the island. The incident recalls the 1995 rape of an Okinawan schoolgirl by three American servicemen, which prompted mass protests and remains a source of bitterness on the southern island.