The government has lodged a protest with the United States over an alleged trespassing incident committed by a service member in Okinawa, asking that military discipline be bolstered.
Junichi Ihara, director general of the Foreign Ministry’s North American Affairs Bureau, told Kurt Tong, deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy, that the incident was deplorable and asked the U.S. to tighten discipline among its forces.
Tong said the U.S. government will continue to work to preventng similar incidents.
Thursday’s incident involving Pfc. Gregory Carson, 20, assigned to U.S. Marine Corps Camp Courtney, followed a spate of alleged trespassing cases committed by U.S. service members in Okinawa.
It also came after Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba said last week the government will hold a working-level meeting Wednesday in Naha with local governments in Okinawa and the U.S. military to discuss how to prevent misconduct involving military personnel.
Calling a series of alleged curfew violations by U.S. military personnel in Okinawa “very regrettable,” Genba told reporters that effective measures to address crimes by U.S. service members need to be taken “wherever possible.”
The U.S. military has imposed an 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew on all personnel in Japan following the alleged rape of a local woman by two U.S. sailors in Okinawa in October. It is also reviewing existing rules governing off-duty conduct of service members in the country.
Nude in Net cafe
Police have arrested a U.S. sailor and charged him with public indecency for allegedly parading around a Yokohama Internet cafe naked and drunk early Friday, also in violation of recently imposed curfew hours for American service members.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Oscar Hayes Wiygul III, 23, a crewman aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington, forward-deployed to the base in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, was allegedly found walking around naked and inebriated in the Internet cafe around 3:15 a.m., according to the prefectural police.
Police said Wiygul appeared to be drunk when he arrived at the cafe with a fellow service member. Wiygul has denied the charge of public indecency.
The alleged rape of a woman by two U.S. Navy sailors in the city of Okinawa in mid-October led the U.S. military to introduce a curfew between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. for all service members in Japan.
The U.S. Navy said in a statement it was investigating why the sailor was at the Internet cafe during curfew hours and pledged to ensure its ranks behave appropriately.
The city of Yokosuka also asked the naval base to maintain discipline, and the navy vowed to do so while expressing regret over the incident, city officials said.
Police in Okinawa arrested a U.S. Marine early Friday for alleged drunken driving, and a relative of a U.S. sailor was also taken into custoday in Yokosuka for allegedly possessing a knife.
Luis Fernandez, 27, based at U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, was arrested after a car he was driving hit another vehicle that was stopped at a traffic light in the city of Okinawa, and he failed a Breathalyzer test, police said. He has denied any wrongdoing.
Aron Myers, 28, whose wife works at the Yokosuka base, has told investigators he does not know why he was arrested. He is suspected of carrying a knife with a 9-cm blade on a street in the city.
Deserter in Okinawa
The Okinawa Prefectural Government said it has been informed that a U.S. serviceman deserted Nov. 9.
The prefecture said it received the notice via the Foreign Ministry. The U.S. military said the serviceman left a unit stationed at the Futenma air station in the city of Ginowan.
The U.S. military asked the Okinawa Prefectural Police to arrest the deserter based on a Japan-U.S. agreement, prefectural officials said.
The officials did not have details about the deserter.
This is the seventh case of desertion in the prefecture since the U.S. started providing such information in July 2008. Three of the deserters are still at large, according to the prefecture.
Helicopters on course
Helicopters at the Futenma air station mostly stick to flight paths designated by Japan and the United States, according to Defense Ministry officials.
Some routes have digressed from the Japan-U.S. agreement, but this doesn’t mean the U.S. military has violated the agreement, the Okinawa Defense Bureau said Thursday in a survey of flight paths used by the helicopters between April 2011 and last March.
The ministry called last month on U.S. forces to ensure that choppers stick to agreed routes if possible. In response, the U.S. military said it will do all it can to respect the agreement.
Japan and the U.S. agreed to in 2007 keep helicopters away from residential areas. The Okinawa bureau has monitored helicopter routes since January 2010 with four cameras set up around the base.
Toshio Takahashi, a 59-year-old local resident and a plaintiff in a lawsuit against noise from the air station in Ginowan, voiced suspicions over the results of the survey.
Takahashi said he often sees copters outside agreed routes. “I wonder on what grounds the local bureau believes the United States keeps to the agreement.”