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May 26, 2017

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2 US servicemen arrested over Okinawa rape: media

TOKYO--Two U.S. servicemen were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of raping a Japanese woman in Okinawa, reports said, as anti-American feeling runs high on the strategically vital island.

The incident comes amid swelling protests over the recent deployment on the island of 12 Osprey transport aircraft, with the plane's perceived poor safety sparking concern among local residents.

National broadcaster NHK said the two, both aged 23, were arrested for the alleged assault before dawn on Tuesday.

One of the sailors admitted the attack but the other has denied it, according to TV Asahi. A spokesman for the Okinawa prefectural police refused to comment on the reports.

U.S. Ambassador John Roos said his government takes the incident very seriously and pledged full cooperation with the investigation, Kyodo news service reported. He was speaking during a telephone conversation with Vice Foreign Minister Shuji Kira, who described the case as deeply regrettable.

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