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Last Updated: Friday, 24 March 2006, 08:25 GMT
US employee jailed for Japan rape
File photograph of Okinawa residents protesting against a US base
Okinawans have long complained about the presence of US bases
A civilian employee of the US military has been sentenced to nine years in prison for two rapes on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa.

Dag A Thompson, 36, was convicted of two separate rapes that occurred in 1998 and 2004, court officials said.

He was described as an ex-Marine who had sold cars at the US Kadena air base.

The case comes at a sensitive time, as the US redeploys its forces in Japan, amid some local hostility.

As many as 50,000 US troops are stationed in Japan, with 20,000 of them on Okinawa.

Some bases and personnel are being shifted around as part of a Pentagon effort to streamline its forces overseas, provoking strong opposition in areas where expansion is planned.

The US military presence is sensitive, due to local concerns about noise, the impact on the environment, and crime.

The country is still scarred by the 1995 rape of a Japanese schoolgirl in Okinawa by three American servicemen.

The US military did not immediately comment on the conviction of Thompson.

Japan's Kyodo News said that he was arrested in 2004, and that both of the victims were in their 20s.

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