NHK and most commercial networks reported in their noon news programs that Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga commented at a press conference this morning on the arrest on Sunday of a U.S. Marine on charges of negligent driving resulting in death and driving under the influence of alcohol over his involvement in a traffic accident in Naha on Sunday in which a local man was killed. NHK said that while expressing condolences to the victim and his family, Suga stated that it is very regrettable that the incident happened despite the Japanese government’s repeated requests to the U.S. military that it thoroughly enforce discipline and take measures to prevent a recurrence. TBS quoted Suga as saying that the Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs have conveyed Japan’s great displeasure over the incident to the U.S. military and the U.S. Embassy in Japan and made strong requests that the U.S. side enforce stricter discipline, take measures to prevent a recurrence, and respond sincerely to the family of the victim. Suga added that Ambassador Hagerty has expressed condolences and an apology and his intention to cooperate with the investigation and make efforts to prevent a recurrence.
The broadcasters also reported on a new liberty policy issued by III MEF Marines in Okinawa that said: “Effective immediately Tier 3 liberty has been directed by US Forces Japan for all military service members until further notice. Marines, Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen must return to quarters and cease consuming alcohol effective immediately. Alcohol consumption and alcohol sales stop for all US Forces until further notice. Off base liberty is NOT permitted in Okinawa.”
TBS reported that Okinawa Governor Onaga told reporters this morning that the incident left him “speechless” because recently similar incidents involving U.S. service members have occurred repeatedly. The network said that senior U.S. military officials will visit the Okinawa prefectural government in the afternoon to offer an apology.