US Marine arrested following fatal Okinawa truck crash
A US service member has been arrested following a deadly vehicle crash on the Japanese island of Okinawa early Sunday morning.
Marine Pvt. First Class Nicholas James-McLean was driving a truck when it collided with another vehicle at 5:25 a.m. in Okinawa’s capital of Naha, killing the 61-year-old driver, according to Jun Tamanaha from the Naha police department.
Police said James-McLean’s blood alcohol content was three times the legal limit.
Okinawa residents have protested the US military presence on the southern Japanese island for years, in large part due to violent and fatal incidents involving members of the US military.
The case will be sent to the Naha prosecutor’s office Tuesday morning, which will investigate and decide whether or not to indict James-McLean, Tamanaha said.
“It is extremely regrettable that this accident happened even though Japanese government has repeatedly asked for the thorough implementation of preventive measures and enforcement of disciplines,” Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a news conference.
Japan is demanding that the US military “enforce the strict discipline and take preventive steps and give a sincere response to the bereaved family.”
CNN has reached out to both US Forces Japan and local police to see if James-McLean has retained a lawyer.
USFJ announced it is now restricting service members on the island to their bases and places of residence due to the incident. Alcohol consumption has also been prohibited by all service members on or off bases across Japan.
US military personnel and civilian contractors working for American forces have been accused of multiple crimes in Okinawa this year. From January to October 2017, two have been arrested on allegations of robbery, two on allegations of rape and six on allegations of violent offenses, according to the Okinawa Prefecture Police website.
Last year, US sailors in Japan were banned from drinking for an 11-day period after a petty officer was accused of driving on the wrong side of the road, hitting two cars and injuring two people, while under the influence of alcohol.
In 2016, two incidents in the space of three months prompted widespread public anger — in March, a US service member was arrested on suspicion of raping a Japanese tourist, and in May, a civilian contractor at a US base in Okinawa was arrested in connection with the death of a 20-year-old woman.
The US military has confirmed plans to reduce its footprint in Okinawa in the coming years.
It handed some land back to the Japanese last year, and plans to move about 4,000 of the 19,000 Marines from Okinawa to the US territory of Guam from 2024 to 2028.
Adm. Harry Harris, the head of the US Pacific Command, told Congress earlier this year the military hopes to reduce the number of Marines in Okinawa to 10,000.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified Jun Tamanaha as the victim of the crash. He is the public relations manager for Naha police.