TOKYO - Japanese authorities are investigating
the alleged rape of a teenager by four U.S. Marines in southwestern Japan last weekend, officials and media said Friday.
Police in Hiroshima prefecture are working with U.S. military officials to investigate the allegation, which the 19-year-old woman made to police, top government spokesman Nobutaka Machimura told reporters.
"It would be unforgiveable if this turns out to be true," Machimura said.
The U.S. has about 50,000 troops based in Japan under a bilateral security treaty. Many Japanese complain of crime, pollution and noise associated with the bases.
The rape of a schoolgirl in Okinawa, which has the largest U.S. military presence, by three American servicemen sparked large protests in 1995.
The woman in the newly reported incident allegedly met the men, believed to be Marines from the nearby Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station, at a restaurant or bar in Hiroshima early Saturday morning, local media reports said, citing unnamed police officials.
The men allegedly took the woman outside to a car and drove her to a parking lot about a mile away where they raped her, according to the reports.
The U.S. Embassy said that it was "aware of the reported incident" and, together with U.S. Forces Japan, was cooperating fully with Japanese authorities.
"We take reports of this nature very seriously," it said.
USFJ spokesman Master Sgt. Terence Peck made a nearly identical statement.
Neither officials nor the media reports named any of the people involved in the alleged incident.
Hiroshima is about 430 miles southwest of Tokyo.
Associated Press Writer Kozo Mizoguchi contributed to this report.
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