US naval officer arrested in Japan over drunk driving



An American naval officer has been arrested for driving under influence of alcohol in Okinawa, Japan, officials say.

Naval Officer Aimee Mejia, 21, was arrested shortly after midnight on Sunday on suspicion of drunk driving, Japanese police said.

The arrest came at the time when US military personnel there are already under curfew following a rape and murder by a base employee.

Mejia had been driving the wrong way down a street before she hit an oncoming vehicle. Her car bounced off to collide with another vehicle, leaving a local woman with a cracked breastbone, an Okinawa police spokesman said.

“She was arrested right on the spot for driving while intoxicated,” he told AFP.

Public outrage against the heavy US military presence on Okinawa was intensified in May after a former US Marine and a base employee was arrested in connection with the death of a 20-year-old woman.

The arrest prompted officials to impose a month-long night-time curfew on US forces based on the island, as part of a “period of unity and mourning” over the killing.

Meanwhile, Sunday’s arrest refueled the anger among Okinawans, who will stage a major rally this month to protest against the military bases as well as the behavior of US personnel.

The island, which was the site of a World War II battle, is now regarded as a strategic area. However, the many US bases and soldiers on the island have long been a cause of tension in relations between the US and Japan.

The island is home to the lion’s share of American bases in Japan, where there are currently 47,000 US personnel under a decades-long security alliance.

US military personnel, dependents and civilians have committed crimes, including rapes and assaults as well as hit-and-run accidents, which have long provoked local protests on the island.

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