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Saturday, 7 July, 2001, 14:48 GMT 15:48 UK
Japan detains US rape suspect
An Okinawan student is asked by a US serviceman to leave from Kadena Air base
The incident threatened to damage US-Japanese relations
A court on the Japanese island of Okinawa has approved a 10-day detention of a United States serviceman suspected of raping a local woman last week.

I want the US to keep the idea in mind that any incidents or accidents involving US soldiers must not occur

Gen Nakatani
The judge gave prosecutors the customary 10 days to build a case against Timothy Woodland, 24, who was arrested on Friday after the US authorities agreed to hand him over prior to indictment.

Meanwhile, the chief of Japan's Defence Agency called for "tighter discipline" for US forces based in Japan.

"I want the US to keep the idea in mind that any incidents or accidents involving US soldiers must not occur," Gen Nakatani was quoted as telling a news conference.

Local resentment

The incident, which threatened to damage US-Japanese relations, triggered renewed demands for a reduction in the huge bases that cover 20% of Okinawa's land.

Car park
The alleged rape took place in this car park last Friday
The US government had been reluctant to hand Mr Woodland over because of concerns about his legal defence under Japan's judicial system, which has a conviction rate of more than 95%.

On Friday, US Ambassador Howard Baker said that the US side was satisfied that Mr Woodland would be treated fairly, but he did not release details of the agreement with the Japanese that led to the handover.

Mr Wooldland is only the second American to have been handed over to Japan without being charged.

The delay in handing him over has further fanned local resentment against the US military in Okinawa, where repeated sexual attacks involving US soldiers have occurred.

Hundreds of women attended a protest meeting in Okinawa on Saturday.

'Unspeakable fear'

A statement from the organisers said the alleged rape had provoked "extreme anger and unspeakable fear," among local women.

Mr Woodland will probably be tried in a Japanese court and faces several years in a Japanese prison if convicted.

The alleged rape took place before dawn last Friday in the car park of American Village, a shopping and amusement arcade outside the sprawling Kadena base, about 18km (11 miles) north of Naha, Okinawa's capital city.

The woman, in her 20s, told investigators she had been raped by a black foreigner.

Mr Woodland has denied the alleged rape. He has been quoted as saying the incident involved consensual sex.

The police say they have fingerprint evidence linking him to the crime, as well as accounts from witnesses, including some of the suspect's companions.

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See also:

06 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Okinawa rape suspect under arrest
05 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Japan pressures US over rape suspect
04 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Temperatures rise in Okinawa rape case
02 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Okinawa dogs Japan-US relations
06 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
Okinawa: Island of resentment
30 Jun 01 | Asia-Pacific
Tough agenda for Japan-US summit
30 Jun 01 | Asia-Pacific
Japan rape report worries US
19 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Okinawa urges US troops cutback
13 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
Okinawa marine sought on arson charges
06 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Okinawa: No easy solution
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