Thursday’s Ryukyu Shimpo led with comments made to the daily on Tuesday by USMC Commandant Neller, who expressed his condolences to the family of the Japanese victim who was killed in a recent DUI incident involving an Okinawa service member. The top Marine also said: “I feel deep sympathy for the Marine. I’m convinced it was not his intent.” While promising to cooperate with the local police investigation, the Marine general reportedly asked for Japanese understanding for the fact that some 22,000 to 23,000 Marines are stationed in Japan, including in Okinawa, and said that “this individual made a bad mistake.” While emphasizing that Gen. Neller did not mention any measures to prevent a recurrence or tighten discipline, the daily expressed “anger and distrust” over what it viewed as the Commandant’s “defense” of the suspect, speculating that he will receive a dishonorable discharge.
In a related story, Thursday’s Okinawa Times took up Wednesday’s meeting between a group of LDP Okinawa chapter members and Naha Con Gen Ehrendreich, during which the local politicians lodged a protest over the fatal accident and proposed a range of measures to deter mishaps involving U.S. military personnel, such as a system to hold the supervisors of offenders accountable for their misconduct. According to the daily, the U.S. diplomat reportedly stated in reply that the USG will look into the ideas, including the establishment of a forum for discussion between Okinawa and the USG and the GOJ tasked with formulating measures to prevent a recurrence.