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    US Troops Implicated in at Least Half Dozen Incidents in Okinawa Since 2016

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    On Sunday, a military truck driven by a US serviceman under the influence of alcohol collided with a civilian light truck in Naha, Okinawa, killing its driver. The deadly crash is hardly the first incident on the island involving US soldiers. In the last year alone, Sputnik has counted at least five other scandalous episodes involving US personnel.

    Following Sunday's crash, US Forces Japan restricted all US military personnel to base and their residences, and prohibited the consumption of alcohol. According to Japanese police, the blood-alcohol content of the 21-year-old Nicholas James-McLean, the Marine involved in the crash, was three times Japan's legal limit. A witness told police that the military truck driven by the Marine ran a red light, hitting the minitruck driven by 61-year-old Hidemasa Taira as it attempted to make a right turn. Taira was taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead. James-McLean has been detained by police.

    US incidents in Japan
    © Sputnik/ Vitaly Podvitski
    The southern Japanese island of Okinawa hosts about 25,000 US troops. The island's US bases have been repeatedly criticized by local residents for driving up crime, including rapes of local women, for aircraft and vehicle crashes in and around the bases, and for the environmental degradation caused by the US presence.

    Dangerous and often deadly incidents involving US personnel are a regular occurrence. In the last year and a half alone, Sputnik has counted nearly half a dozen such cases. 

    Protesters raise placards reading Anger was over the limit during a rally against the U.S. military presence on the island and a series of crimes and other incidents involving U.S. soldiers and base workers, at a park in the prefectural capital Naha on Japan's southern island of Okinawa, Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo June 19, 2016
    © REUTERS/ Kyodo
    Protesters raise placards reading "Anger was over the limit" during a rally against the U.S. military presence on the island and a series of crimes and other incidents involving U.S. soldiers and base workers, at a park in the prefectural capital Naha on Japan's southern island of Okinawa, Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo June 19, 2016

    For example, in May 2017, a serviceman from the US Air Force from the US base at Kadena operating a motor vehicle under the influence hit a civilian car, injuring a local woman. The soldier fled the scene. A criminal case was opened against him, and in September he was found guilty, but given only a conditional sentence.

    A year earlier, in July 2016, another service member from the Kadena base was involved in an accident while operating a motor vehicle. Local police found his blood alcohol to be five times above the limit. The same month, a US Air Force sergeant was arrested for drunk driving.

    In June 2016, yet another soldier from the Kadena base got behind the wheel while intoxicated, driving into an oncoming lane and colliding with two civilian cars, seriously injuring three of their occupants. The same month, another service member got in a head-on collision at an intersection. His blood alcohol level was found to be four times in excess of the local limit. The soldier was arrested. Following the first incident, US Forces Japan banned alcohol consumption, but curiously lifted the ban on June 28, two days after the second accident.

    Finally, in April 2016, a former US Marine working as a civilian employee at a US base attacked, raped and murdered a 20-year-old local woman and dumped her body. The woman was found five months later. The Naha prosecutor's office opened a criminal investigation against the ex-Marine in November 16. That trial is ongoing.

    Tags:
    accidents, incidents, occupation, crimes, drunk driving, murder, US military, Japan, United States, Okinawa
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