Rape in Japan Spurs Look at Troops' Status Mondale Oks Review of Soldiers' Custody in Criminal Investigations

Article excerpt

U.S. Ambassador Walter F. Mondale agreed Thursday to let legal experts review the special status granted to American military personnel in Japan, after an outcry over the rape of a schoolgirl.

In a meeting with Foreign Minister Yohei Kono, Mondale again apologized for the assault on the 12-year-old Okinawan girl, allegedly by three U.S. servicemen.

"It is outrageous, inexcusable," Mondale said. "We are ashamed and we apologize."

The rape earlier this month on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa has dominated headlines and sparked widespread outrage among Okinawans, many of whom resent the presence of U.S. military bases.

On Thursday, a group of people representing a local children's organization called on Okinawa's governor to demand the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the island.

Mondale agreed to Kono's request that a panel of legal experts study the agreement that grants special legal status to American military personnel in Japan during criminal investigations.

The agreement gives the U.S. military custody over personnel suspected of crimes off-base until formal charges are filed by local authorities. …