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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 February 2008, 12:15 GMT
Rice voices regret over rape case
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Tokyo, Japan (27/02/2008)
Ms Rice said she hoped the incident would not damage relations
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has voiced deep regret over a US marine's alleged rape of a girl on the Japanese island of Okinawa.

Ms Rice is currently visiting Japan on the last leg of her three-nation regional tour.

Thousands of US troops are based in Okinawa, Japan's southern-most island.

Many Okinawans dislike the US presence, and in 1995 there were mass protests after American troops gang-raped a 12-year-old girl there.

"We just regret deeply that this happened," Ms Rice said of the recent case, in which 38-year-old Marine Staff Sgt Tyrone Hadnott is accused of raping a 14-year-old girl in his car.

"[It] is very hard to see something like this happen, and it's especially hard because it involves a young girl," Ms Rice said.

The incident has raised concerns for the future of the US-Japan security alliance, and Ms Rice said she hoped there would not be lasting effect on the countries' relationship.

"It's a long-standing and strong alliance," she said.

"But our concern right now is to see that justice is done, to get to the bottom of it, and our concern is for the girl and for her family."


US military commanders have already offered apologies over the alleged rape and other recent cases, including a report of a US marine who allegedly trespassed in a Japanese family's home while drunk.

Military personnel and their families were put under strict curfews following the allegations.

The senior US commander in Okinawa, Marine Corps Lt Gen Richard Zilmer, has said the curfew will be reassessed in early March.

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