The US military has banned all its personnel deployed in Japan from drinking or buying alcohol after one of its servicemen was involved in a deadly crash on Okinawa island linked to drunken driving.
The accident took place 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 on the southern Japanese island.
In a statement on Monday, the US Forces, Japan, confirmed that one its service members had been involved in the accident and said that “alcohol may have been a factor”.
The military also announced “mandatory training to address responsible alcohol use, risk management and acceptable behaviour” for all its troops across Japan.
The Japanese police said the Marine was under arrest charged with negligent driving resulting in death, the BBC reported.
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 honourably and make great contributions to the defence 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 the 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 shocked the region was 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 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 per cent of the US military facilities in the country.