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Latest U.S. military incident in Japan: apparent game of ding-dong ditch

By Junko Ogura, CNN
January 21, 2013 -- Updated 1603 GMT (0003 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The Navy is investigating the arrest of a sailor assigned to an aircraft carrier
  • Residents of Yokosuka, Japan, called police complaining of doorbells being rung late at night
  • Police allegedly found the sailor on the property of a 72-year-old woman
  • The sailor apparently violated a standing U.S. military curfew imposed in October

Tokyo (CNN) -- Was it a game of ding-dong ditch, or just a misunderstanding?

A U.S. sailor stands accused of ringing doorbells in the middle of the night and breaking into a 72-year-old woman's property while drunk, say police in Yokosuka, Japan.

Authorities arrested Manuel Silva, 20, early Monday on the elderly woman's property in the city, located south of Tokyo.

The arrested sailor is assigned to the aircraft carrier USS George Washington, the Navy said. A Navy spokesman said he wasn't allowed to identify the sailor by name.

Being off-base without permission could put Silva in breach of a standing curfew for all U.S. military service members in Japan. U.S. officials imposed the curfew in response to widespread outrage over rape accusations in October against U.S. sailors on the Japanese island of Okinawa.

The incident started after police received several late night emergency calls. Somebody in the neighborhood where Silva was found was ringing doorbells and running away before the doors were answered.

2008: Japanese to U.S.: Get out

Police say they later discovered Silva on the elderly woman's property.

The Navy said it is "currently reviewing the incident to determine if there was a violation" of regulations for U.S. service members serving in Japan.

Silva was being held at a Yokosuka police station until his scheduled transfer Tuesday to a local prosecutor's office. "The U.S. Navy takes this incident seriously," said USS George Washington spokesman Derrick Ingle. He said the Navy is "fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation."

For decades, crimes committed by U.S. troops stationed in Japan have contributed to a bumpy relationship between the Japanese people and the U.S. military.

In November, a U.S. airman was accused of breaking into a family's home on Okinawa and assaulting a teenage boy before jumping off a third-floor balcony.

Relations between the Japanese and the U.S. military also suffered in 1995 when a U.S. sailor and two U.S. Marines were convicted of raping a 12-year-old girl.

Tens of thousands of Okinawans took to the streets at the time demanding that the United States leave the island.

CNN's Jethro Mullen in Hong Kong contributed to this report.

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