Jiji Press NAHA (Jiji Press) — Lt. Gen. Lawrence Nicholson, head of U.S. forces in Okinawa, apologized on Monday for a fatal drunk driving accident caused by a U.S. Marine in Naha on Sunday.
In talks with Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga at the prefectural government office in Naha, Nicholson expressed his condolences to the victim's family and promised to take more steps to prevent any recurrence of similar incidents.
"We can’t help concluding that preventive measures against drunken driving taken so far by the U.S. side are insufficient," Onaga said.
Preventive measures and discipline enforcement by the U.S. forces are "utterly unreliable," he also said, following a string of misconduct cases and incidents. "It’s impossible for us to call [U.S. service members] good neighbors."
Onaga again expressed opposition to a plan to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma air station in Ginowan, Okinawa, to the Henoko coastal district in Nago in the prefecture, and urged the U.S. side to reduce Okinawa’s burden of hosting U.S. military facilities.
Nicholson stated that he has no excuse for Sunday’s accident, admitting a lack of efforts to prevent drunk driving by service members. He vowed to make more efforts to reduce accidents and incidents.
He also asked for understanding to allow U.S. troops to stay in Okinawa.