• Kyodo

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A panel involving central government, Okinawa and U.S. military officials plans to inspect the education programs for U.S. Marines in the prefecture as part of efforts to curb crimes and accidents involving off-duty U.S. service members.

The panel, launched Tuesday, will soon begin examining the programs, including the “good neighbor” doctrine, covering marines stationed in the prefecture.

Its secretariat will be in the Foreign Ministry’s office in Naha. It plans to meet twice a month to discuss measures to prevent crimes and traffic accidents involving off-duty U.S. service members.

Panel members will trade opinions on how the programs can be effectively enforced and how to prevent minors in the U.S. military from drinking.

They will also discuss whether U.S. service members can be banned from drinking after midnight.

The panel was set up as a task force under a consultative body of the central government, the prefecture and U.S. forces. Its launch follows a series of crimes and traffic accidents involving U.S. military personnel in Okinawa.

A marine was arrested for molesting a junior high school girl in the city of Okinawa on July 3. In September, he was court-martialed and sentenced to two years in prison.

The incident was followed by a series of local traffic accidents involving drunken U.S. servicemen.

In September, the central government, the Okinawa Prefectural Government and the U.S. military decided to come up with measures to curb such incidents.

Defense IT parley

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Arthur Money will meet defense chief Kazuo Torashima in Tokyo today to discuss cooperation in developing information technology for defense, the Defense Agency said.

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