A protester shows off a placard reading 'US Marines, withdraw' during a rally against US military bases, following the arrest of an American suspected of murdering a local woman, at a park in Okinawa, Japan. June 19, 2016.Okinawa Vice Governor Mitsuo Ageda filed the protest Monday to Lt. Gen. Lawrence Nicholson, commanding general of III Marine Expeditionary Force and Marine Forces Japan, stationed in Okinawa. A 24-year-old civilian worker at a US base in Okinawa was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving early Sunday morning after his vehicle collided with another car at an intersection. Though the suspect denied the allegation, a breath test showed that his blood-alcohol level was four times the legal limit, local police said. The incident happened during a drinking ban imposed by the US military on its service members as part of a "unity and mourning" period following the alleged murder and rape of a 20-year-old Okinawa woman by a US civilian base worker in April.
The ban, originally from May 27 to June 24 and later extended to June 28, prohibited US service members from drinking alcohol off base and outside their houses.
Earlier this month, a US navy sailor was also arrested on suspicion of drunk driving and injuring two people in Okinawa.
“It’s futile to express anger and sadness (regarding the issue),” said Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga at a press conference Monday morning.
“Despite their repeated promises of strengthening the discipline and preventing such incidents from happening again, such incidents happened again so easily. I don’t know what to say,” said Onaga.
Okinawa hosts some 75 percent of US bases in Japan while accounting for only 0.6 percent of the country’s total land mass. Criminal cases involving US military men repeatedly happened in Okinawa.
Tens of thousands of people rallied a week earlier in Naha, capital city of Okinawa, protesting against crimes committed by US military personnel and demanding removal of the US bases from the island.