The US Navy has banned all its personnel stationed in Japan from drinking
after one of their number crashed into two Japanese cars
drunk-driving the wrong way down a highway during a moratorium on off-base drinking prompted by a US base worker’s murder of a 20-year-old Japanese girl.
21-year-old Petty Officer 2nd Class Aimee Mejia had been driving on the wrong side of the road before inevitably hitting two vehicles and injuring two of their occupants, being found to have a blood-alcohol level nearly six times higher than Japan’s legal limit.
That the incident occurred during a ban on off-base drinking imposed after 32-year-old
ex-US Marine and base worker Kenneth Franklin Shinzato (an African-American man who took the surname of his Japanese wife) raped and killed a 20-year-old Japanese girl, stuffing her body in a suitcase and dumping it in the jungle, has helped propel anti-American sentiment in Okinawa to incandescent levels.
By the time the authorities caught up with Shinzato, a contractor who lived near Kadena base with his wife and infant child, he had already attempted suicide via sleeping pills, but once in custody he confessed to dumping her body, and was arrested on charges of improperly disposing of a corpse, charges later upgraded to rape and murder.
The woman’s last LINE message to her boyfriend indicated she had gone for a walk, but eventually a police search based on Shinzato’s testimony would uncover her remains, having been reduced to near skeletal condition after a month in the tropical heat. She had been raped, stabbed and bludgeoned.
After their own personnel flagrantly violated their efforts to contain the outrage all this caused, the relatively drastic ban seems only to be a temporary response to the string of recent crimes caused by US forces stationed in Japan.
Naturally there is little faith that the country-wide confinement will do any good considering that incidents in past years had provoked similar curfews only to lead to brutal crimes regardless, the underlying problem of concentrating tens of thousands of America’s trained killers amongst a defenseless Japanese populace not being solved.
The ever vigilant protesters fed up with the US’s military presence in Okinawa have also taken to action as a result of the most recent atrocities, scheduling a rally for June 19th that they believe will have more attendees than the former 1995 protest made in response to the abduction and rape of a 12-year old girl.
The Japanese government also has plans to issue 100 more police officers and 20 more patrol cars to Okinawa to further aid in controlling the decades long American crime wave (or possibly just to keep protesters from interfering with the bases of their masters), although this too barely addresses the underlying issues.