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Asia Minute: Okinawa Military Incident Inflames Local Leadership

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. military has banned all soldiers stationed in Japan from drinking alcohol. This follows a fatal crash in Okinawa involving a serviceman, a local driver, and allegations of drunk driving. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

For the U. S. military in Japan, it’s a recurring nightmare.

Allegations of criminal behavior by personnel stationed on Okinawa.

The latest case involves the crash of a military truck into a vehicle driven by a local civilian—a 61 year old man.

Reuters quotes a local police official as saying the Marine driver had a blood alcohol level three times over the legal limit and was arrested on the scene.

Japanese media quote witnesses who say the Marine drove through a red light and hit the other driver, who was making a turn.

U.S. forces on Okinawa have been told to stay on base or at home, and the purchase or consumption of alcohol has been banned for all U.S. military personnel across Japan.

That is about 50,000 people – about half of them stationed in Okinawa.

U.S. Forces Japan issued a statement saying “When our service members fail to live up to the high standards we set for them, it damages the bonds between bases and local communities and makes it harder for us to accomplish our mission.”

The governor of Okinawa said in a letter Monday that “every time such an accident takes place…the Okinawa Prefectural Government has urged the U.S. forces to make sure to implement preventive measures, enforce stricter discipline and conduct thorough education programs. Despite our repeated requests, however, the accident took place, taking a precious human life”….adding “we cannot contain our indignation.”

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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