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

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.
 


Duterte: Hold me responsible for killings in Philippines’ drug crackdown

Updated 21 min 59 sec ago

Duterte: Hold me responsible for killings in Philippines’ drug crackdown

  • ‘If there’s killing there, I’m saying I’m the one ... you can hold me responsible for anything, any death that has occurred in the execution of the drug war’

MANILA: The Philippine president has said he accepts responsibility for the thousands of killings committed during police operations in his crackdown on drugs, adding that he was even ready to go to jail.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s televised remarks Monday night were typical of his bluster — and tempered by the fact that he has pulled his country out of the International Criminal Court, where a prosecutor is considering complaints related to the leader’s bloody campaign.
The remarks were also a clear acknowledgement that Duterte could face a deluge of criminal charges. Nearly 6,000 killings of drug suspects have been reported by police since he took office in mid-2016, but rights watchdogs suspect the death toll is far larger.
“If there’s killing there, I’m saying I’m the one ... you can hold me responsible for anything, any death that has occurred in the execution of the drug war,” Duterte said.
“If you get killed, it’s because I’m enraged by drugs,” said the president known for his coarse and boastful rhetoric. “If I serve my country by going to jail, gladly.”
He said, however, that drug killings that did not happen during police operations should not be blamed on him, alleging that those may have been committed by gangs.
Duterte has made a crackdown on drugs a centerpiece of his presidency. At the height of the campaign — which has often targeted petty dealers and users along with a handful of the biggest druglords — images of suspects sprawled dead and bloodied in the streets were frequently broadcast in TV news reports and splashed on the front pages of newspapers. Tens of thousands of arrests in the initial years of the crackdown worsened congestion in what were already among the world’s most overcrowded jails.
UN human rights experts and Western governments led by the United States have raised alarm over the killings, enraging Duterte, who once told former US President Barack Obama to “go to hell.”
There have been widespread suspicions that police engage in extrajudicial killings in the crackdown, allegations that they and Duterte deny. In 2018, a court convicted three police officers of murdering a 17-year-old student after witnesses and a security video disproved their claim that the suspect was shot after violently resisting, a common reason cited by police officers after drug suspects are killed.
At least two complaints for crimes against humanity and mass murder in connection with Duterte’s campaign are being examined by an ICC prosecutor, who will determine whether there is enough evidence to open a full-scale investigation.
When the complaints were made, Duterte withdrew the Philippines from the world tribunal two years ago in a move that human rights groups said was a major setback in the country’s battle against impunity. The ICC prosecutor has said the examination into the drug killings would continue despite the Philippine withdrawal.
Duterte reiterated his defiance of the court’s probe Monday by asking, when did “drugs become humanity?”
Instead, he framed the drug menace as a national security threat, as he has in the past, comparing it to the communist insurgency that the government has tried to quell for more than a half-century.
“If this is allowed to go on and on and if no decisive action is taken against them, it will endanger the security of the state,” said Duterte, a former government prosecutor.
“When you save your country from the perdition of the people like the NPAs and drugs, you are doing a sacred duty,” he said, referring to communist New People’s Army insurgents.
Police have reported at least 5,856 drug suspects have been killed in raids and more than 256,000 others arrested since the start of the crackdown. Human rights groups have accused authorities of considerably under reporting the deaths.