US troops in Japan banned from drinking after fatal crash

A Japanese driver's damaged vehicle is placed at a police station in Naha, Okinawa, southern Japan on Sunday. (AP)
Updated 20 November 2017
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US troops in Japan banned from drinking after fatal crash

TOKYO: US Forces in Japan banned all personnel from consuming alcohol after a drink-driving accident on the island of Okinawa where anti-base sentiment runs high.
A US Marine crashed his vehicle into a mini-truck at an intersection on Sunday, killing the other driver, 61.
The 21-year-old, whose breath test showed an alcohol level three times the legal limit, was arrested and charged with negligent driving resulting in death, police said.
All US servicemen stationed in Japan are now banned from drinking, both on and off base, the US Forces in Japan said in a statement.
In Okinawa, personnel are also restricted to base or to their residences.
“When our service members fail to live up to the high standards we set for them, it damages the bonds between bases and local communities and makes it harder for us to accomplish our mission,” the statement said.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Tokyo made an immediate complaint about the case to the US side, demanding the US military enforce strict discipline and take preventive steps.
“It is extremely regrettable that this accident happened even though the Japanese government has repeatedly asked them for the thorough implementation of preventive measures and enforcement of disciplines,” Suga told reporters.
The US has several military bases in Japan and stations about 47,000 troops in the country as part of a joint security treaty.
But crimes by US personnel have seen relations with locals strained.
In the most recent case, a former US Marine employed at the US Air Force’s sprawling Kadena Air Base on Okinawa was charged with the murder of a 20-year-old woman last year.
The incident intensified longstanding local opposition to the American military presence on the island.
Commanders across Japan will immediately lead mandatory training to address responsible alcohol use, risk management and acceptable behavior, the US statement added.
Okinawa accounts for nearly 75 percent of land allotted for US bases in Japan, despite being only a fraction of the country’s total area.
 


Sri Lanka parliament to meet in showdown between rival PMs

Updated 42 min 54 sec ago
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Sri Lanka parliament to meet in showdown between rival PMs

  • Sri Lanka has been locked in a power struggle since the prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was sacked
  • The power struggle has crippled the work of the administration

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s parliament will meet under tight security Wednesday, after the top court ruled its dissolution illegal and opened the door to a vote on which of two rival prime ministers has the support to rule.
Sri Lanka has been locked in a power struggle since the president sacked prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on October 26 and replaced him with former strongman president Mahinda Rajapaksa.
On Tuesday the Supreme Court overruled President Maithripala Sirisena’s dissolution of parliament, and halted preparations for a snap election, in a major boost for the ousted prime minister.
Wickremesinghe is confident he can command a majority and wants a vote on the floor of the 225-member assembly to determine the legitimacy of the government installed by presidential diktat.
“Speaker Karu Jayasuriya ordered the police to ensure that MPs have free access to parliament,” a spokesman for the Speaker said. “There will be tight security.”
Thousands of armed police have been deployed along the key approach roads to parliament, which is located on a man-made lake island, with several anti-riot units on standby.
Parliament officials fear that supporters of Rajapaksa’s party may try to stop legislators getting to parliament.
However, by early Wednesday there were no large crowds and only small pockets of Wickremesinghe supporters gathered near the parliament complex.
Rajapaksa’s party was divided Tuesday on facing a test in parliament. His legislator son Namal Rajapaksa said they will attend the legislature, but other party seniors said they would not.
Sirisena sacked the legislature after his party admitted that they did not have an absolute majority despite engineering the defections of eight legislators from Wickremesinghe’s party.
Since then, at least two legislators have ditched Rajapaksa and joined Wickremesinghe’s UNP party which insists it has a comfortable majority in the House.
Wickremesinghe, who insists he is still the prime minister, has refused to vacate the official Temple Trees residence which is a symbol of state power in the island.
The power struggle has crippled the work of the administration, according to lawmakers on both sides.