OKINAWA (TR) – A worker at a U.S. military base here was arrested in Okinawa City on Sunday over a DUI (driving under the influence) charge, the latest drunk driving incident to occur during the U.S. Navy’s 30-day drinking ban that ends Tuesday.
Okinawa Prefectural Police arrested Francis Shayquan, 24, a shop clerk at the U.S. Air Force Kadena Air Base, on suspicion of driving while intoxicated at around 4:30 a.m. at an intersection in the town of Momohara, the Mainichi Shimbun reports (June 26).
Shayquan denied the charges, claiming to have been “drinking at home yesterday” and was “on my way to go meet a friend,” according to the Yomiuri Shimbun.
“I used mouthwash [containing alcohol] before leaving home,” Shayquan told police.
Police said a breathalyzer test indicated Shayquan’s alcohol level was four times the legal limit.
Shayquan rammed into a passenger car at the intersection before being arrested by police. The driver of the other car, a 67-year-old Japanese man, was hospitalized with light injuries in areas like his shoulders and elbows.
“Not taken lightly”
U.S. forces imposed a drinking ban on its members and civilian personnel in Okinawa from May 27 to June 28 as part of a “unity and mourning” period in light of public uproar after Kenneth Franklin Shinzato, a U.S. military contractor and former marine, admitted to raping and murdering 20-year-old Rina Shimabukuro.
The Associated Press quoted a U.S. Navy official as saying, “These measures are not taken lightly.”
But on June 4 during the drinking ban, Aimee Mejia, 21, a U.S. Navy worker, was charged with drunk-driving after she drove the wrong way along a highway and smashed head-on into two cars injuring two individuals.
The Japanese and U.S. governments have agreed to review the range of civilian base workers that are covered by the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement, or SOFA.
Okinawa has long hosted most of the U.S. troops stationed in Japan. A string of crimes committed by U.S. soldiers has stirred up local opposition against the prefecture hosting U.S. bases.
Anti-U.S. sentiment reached a boiling point in 1995, when three U.S. servicemen rented a van and kidnapped and raped a 12-year-old Okinawan girl.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the incident “provoked the largest demonstrations against U.S. military bases in Okinawan history.”