An ‘intoxicated’ US Marine who was accused of crashing his truck and killing a Japanese man ‘had a blood-alcohol content that was three times the legal limit’.
The victim, who was identified by local reports as Hidemasa Taira, 61, was making a turn when his vehicle was hit by the Marine’s truck around 5.30am in Okinawa, according to Kazuhiko Miyagi of the Okinawa police.
Japanese authorities said the soldier’s vehicle was coming from the opposite direction when the crash occurred.
An ‘intoxicated’ US Marine who was accused of crashing his truck and killing Japanese man, Hidemasa Taira, 61, ‘had a blood-alcohol content that was three times the legal limit’. Pictured is Taira’s truck after the crash
Marine, Nicholas James-McLean, 21, was arrested and questioned by police after his two-ton military truck smashed into Taira’s mini-truck.
Taira was later confirmed dead at a local hospital. Witness accounts indicate that Taira had the right of way, and James-McLean may have gone through a red light.
Authorities said the Marine was slightly injured in the crash.
Local reports said a breath test indicated that James-McLean had an alcohol level that was three times the legal limit. Japan’s legal limit is 0.03 per cent.
The Japanese Foreign Ministry put out a statement saying James-McLean was ‘driving under the influence of alcohol’ when the collision occurred.
‘The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan, expressed its deep regret over this incident and requested that discipline would be strengthened and that measures would be taken to prevent recurrence,’ the statement said.
The cause of the crash is under investigation, said a statement issued Sunday evening by Marine Corps Installations Pacific.
The US Marine Corps expressed ‘sincere condolences’ to Taira’s family and promised full cooperation with the investigation.
The incident could fuel opposition to the US military presence on Okinawa, where about 47,000 troops are stationed in the country as part of a joint security treaty. Protesters hold a rally after a US helicopter crash at a farm in October
Lt Gen Lawrence Nicholson, commander of Marine Forces Japan and III Marine Expeditionary Force, said in the statement that they are ‘still gathering facts and working with the Japanese authorities who are investigating the accident and its causes’.
The incident could fuel opposition to the US military presence on Okinawa, where about 47,000 troops are stationed in the country as part of a joint security treaty.
But crimes by US personnel have been a frequent irritant in relations.
In the most recent case, a former US Marine employed at the US Air Force’s sprawling Kadena Air Base on Okinawa was charged with the murder of a 20-year-old woman in April last year.
The case intensified longstanding local opposition to the American military presence on Okinawa.
The island accounts for nearly 75 per cent of land allotted for US bases in Japan even though it has a fraction of the country’s total area.