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US Air Force member charged with kidnapping and raping Japanese schoolgirl

Tokyo CNN —

Japanese prosecutors have charged a US Air Force member with allegedly kidnapping and raping an underage girl just before Christmas last year, Okinawa police confirmed to CNN on Wednesday.

Brennon R. E. Washington, 25, was indicted on March 27 on charges of “non-consensual sexual intercourse” and “indecent kidnapping,” a court spokesperson in Naha, Okinawa’s capital, told CNN, adding that the US military handed the serviceman over to the Japanese authorities on the same day.

Washington was released on bail and transferred to the Kadena US Air Base in Okinawa for custody, according to a government spokesperson. His trial will begin July 12, according to the Naha District Court spokesperson.

The court’s spokesperson told CNN they do not have any details regarding the airman’s legal representation.

The prosecution comes at a time when Washington and Tokyo are deepening their military alliance – in part as geopolitical tensions rise with both China and North Korea.

The alleged rape is the latest in a history of criminal cases involving US personnel in Okinawa, home to one of the largest US foreign military bases, and could exacerbate tensions with residents who have long opposed the presence of American troops and weaponry on the island.

The presence of V-22 Ospreys, a tiltrotor military aircraft, have also been a regular source of anger and protest in Okinawa following a series of recent crashes and noise complaints.

Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki told reporters Tuesday the allegations of rape and kidnap were “extremely regrettable,” adding it was necessary “to strongly protest against the US military and other related organizations.”

The governor also said his office will “take a tough stance in dealing with