Tokyo: A US naval officer was arrested today for alleged drink-driving on Okinawa, Japanese police said, where military personnel are already under curfew after a suspected rape and murder by a base employee. Naval officer Aimee Mejia, 21, was arrested shortly after midnight today on suspicion of drink-driving, an Okinawa police spokesman said. She had been driving the wrong way down a street, hitting an oncoming vehicle and bouncing off to collide with another, leaving a local woman with a cracked breastbone, the spokesman added. “She was arrested right on the spot for driving while intoxicated,” he told AFP.
Public anger against the heavy US military presence on Okinawa was rekindled last month with the arrest a former US Marine, then a base employee, in connection with the death of a 20-year-old woman. The arrest led to a month-long night-time curfew on US forces stationed on the island, as part of a “period of unity and mourning” over the killing. Today’s arrest is expected to refuel the anger among Okinawans, who plan a major rally this month to protest against the military bases as well as the behaviour of personnel.
The island was the site of a World War II battle and is now considered a strategic linchpin but the heavy burden of hosting US bases and soldiers has long been a thorn in the side of the two countries’ relations. It hosts the lion’s share of US bases in Japan and more than half the 47,000 American military personnel in the country under a decades-long security alliance. A series of crimes including rapes, assaults and hit-and-run accidents by US military personnel, dependants and civilians have long sparked local protests on the crowded island. (AFP)
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