TOKYO – The United States military has banned all its personnel deployed in Japan from drinking or buying alcohol after a Marine was arrested for causing a car crash that killed a local man, US Forces-Japan said in a statement on Monday.
The accident took place on the island of Okinawa on Sunday, when 21-year old Marine Nicholas James-McLean, whose blood alcohol level was allegedly three times the legal limit, crashed his military vehicle into a small truck, killing the driver.
“Effective immediately, U.S. service members on Okinawa are restricted to base and to their residences. Commanders across Japan will immediately lead mandatory training to address responsible alcohol use, risk management and acceptable behavior. All military members and U.S. government civilians in Japan are required to attend,” the statement said.
Eyewitnesses told the police the Marine had jumped a red light and crashed into the truck of the Japanese man, who was negotiating a right turn.
“The vast majority of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and civilians in Japan serve honorably and make great contributions to the defense of Japan. 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 statement added.
Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga told local media that he was speechless at the recurrence of these incidents.
Last year, the US military had imposed another temporary ban on alcohol consumption by its troops stationed in Japan after another drunk soldier had caused a traffic accident.
Another recent incident that has shocked the region is the case of civilian contractor Kenneth Franklin Shinzato, who is on trial for raping and killing a 20-year old woman in 2016 in Okinawa, charges that he has partially rejected, admitting only to having raped her.
Okinawa Prefecture hosts more than half of the almost 48,000 troops that the US maintains in Japan, as well as 70 percent of the US military facilities in the country.