The Sankei Shimbun has retracted a story it published last year about a U.S. Marine saving a person involved in a car crash in Okinawa, saying in its Thursday edition that it could not confirm that the events took place.

The national daily apologized to its readers as well as local newspapers — the Ryukyu Shimpo and Okinawa Times — for its "extreme expressions" in an online story on Dec. 9 about the accident, in which it criticized the two newspapers as "shameful Japanese" and having "no right to claim to be news media" for not reporting on the Marine's good Samaritan act.

The Sankei Shimbun's Naha bureau chief ran the two articles in question, including the online piece and another one published in the Dec. 12 morning edition of the paper. The bureau chief interviewed the U.S. Marine Corps about the accident, but failed to interview local police, the newspaper said.

The Ryukyu Shimpo and Okinawa Times have dismissed the Sankei Shimbun report of a rescue by a Marine, saying neither the U.S. Marine Corps nor the Okinawa Prefectural Police had confirmed that the events took place.

"We will train our reporters more thoroughly to prevent this happening again and work toward improving the credibility of our reports," Masato Inui, an executive officer at Sankei Shimbun, said in a statement.