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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 February 2008, 13:26 GMT
US apology over 'rape' in Japan
By Chris Hogg
BBC News, Tokyo

Japanese protesters shout slogans at a US base in Okinawa on 12 February 2008
Anti-US protests have been gathering momentum in Okinawa
The US ambassador to Japan has offered an apology to the people of Okinawa and the family of a schoolgirl there who says she was raped by a US serviceman.

The marine, who is stationed on the island, denies raping the 14-year-old, but according to police he has admitted trying to force her to kiss him.

Okinawa's governor has called for a review of the agreement on the status of US bases and personnel in Japan.

Okinawa saw mass protests after three US servicemen raped a girl in 1995.

'Truly regrettable'

The US ambassador, Thomas Schieffer, bowed in front of the governor of Okinawa and apologised.

He said it was "truly regrettable" that the incident had occurred.

"My heart goes out," he said, "to this young girl, to her family and to all of the people affected by this."

He said the US military commander in Okinawa felt just as bad about the situation as he did.

Three days after the alleged rape took place Marine Tyrone Hadnott, 38, has not been charged.

He has reportedly admitted that he did use force to try to kiss the girl, but he denies raping her, and has told police he did not know she was under-age.

Because he lives outside the base where he works, it has been easier for police to collect evidence from his car and from his house than it might have been.

But the governor of Okinawa has still called for a drastic review of the rules that govern the status of US service personnel in Japan.

Japanese newspapers have also expressed anger at the incident.

One newspaper asked how many times the country had to face what it called "barbaric acts" by American servicemen.

The US points out its military has what it calls zero tolerance for sexual assault.

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