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June 23, 2017

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US soldier 'breaks curfew, attacks boy' in Japan

TOKYO -- The U.S. ambassador to Japan Friday rushed into firefighting mode for the second time in a month after a soldier allegedly attacked a schoolboy on an island already angry with the U.S. military presence.

Ambassador John Roos appeared in front of television cameras pledging full U.S. co-operation after claims that a drunken serviceman broke a curfew and hit a 13-year-old in a private home.

"Let me be absolutely clear. I am very upset, it's an understatement to say I am very upset with the reported incident in Okinawa," Roos told reporters after being summoned to the Japanese foreign ministry in Tokyo.

Less than three weeks ago a teary-eyed Roos told Okinawans he shared their "anger" after two U.S. servicemen were arrested over the alleged rape of a local woman on the island.

That incident led to a nationwide nighttime curfew for all service personnel in the country as U.S. authorities moved swiftly to try to neutralize a potentially explosive issue.

Okinawans, the reluctant hosts to more than half of the 47,000 soldiers, sailors and airmen stationed in Japan, are angry about the huge U.S. presence on their semi-tropical island chain.

Crimes committed by servicemen — including the gang rape of a 12-year-old girl in 1995 — have tended to act as lightning rods for protestors who want their bases shut.

Roos was summoned by Vice Foreign Minister Shuji Kira after a 24-year-old serviceman got in to an apartment above the village pub where he had been drinking and slapped a teenage boy, Okinawa police and reports said.

He kicked and destroyed a television before jumping out the home's third-floor window, they said.

The soldier, who allegedly became violent at the bar before the incident early Friday morning, sustained injuries and was taken to a U.S. military hospital, they said.

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