Home News US Navy officer arrested in Okinawa, raises tension in the area further

US Navy officer arrested in Okinawa, raises tension in the area further


Okinawa DUI

A U.S. Navy officer was arrested Sunday on suspicion of drunk driving in Okinawa, where a U.S. base worker’s alleged involvement in the death of a local woman last month has sparked anger among residents.

The incident prompted the Japanese Defense Ministry to lodge a protest with Lt. Gen. Lawrence Nicholson, the U.S. military commander in Okinawa.

The Okinawa prefectural police arrested Aimee Mejia, 21, a petty officer 2nd class stationed at the U.S. Kadena base.

She is suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol in the town of Kadena late Saturday, crossing into the opposite lane and colliding with two vehicles, the police said.

A 35-year-old woman in one of the vehicles struck by the suspect’s car suffered a broken breast bone and a 30-year-old man in the other vehicle got a bruise in his arm. The suspect was unhurt.

Mejia’s alcohol reading in a breath test was six times the level allowed by law, according to the police.

The incident came after the U.S. forces in Okinawa in late May imposed a midnight curfew and alcohol ban off base for about a month following the arrest of Kenneth Franklin Shinzato, a former Marine and a worker at the Kadena base, on suspicion of dumping the body of the 20-year-old woman.

Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani, who is currently visiting Singapore, told reporters that the latest incident, coming despite the measures to tighten discipline among U.S. military personnel in Okinawa, is “extremely regrettable.”

Japan will continue to urge U.S. forces to ensure that all personnel stationed in Japan abide by Japanese laws, Nakatani said.

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