Flowers mark the site of a fatal collision outside Camp Foster, Okinawa, May 14, 2022.

Flowers mark the site of a fatal collision outside Camp Foster, Okinawa, May 14, 2022. (Frank Andrews/Stars and Stripes)

NAHA, Okinawa — A Japanese court sentenced a U.S. Marine to a 20-month suspended sentence Monday after he admitted driving recklessly prior to a crash that killed a Japanese pedestrian last year.

Cpl. Joshua David Siegel, 21, pleaded guilty May 11 in Naha District Court to a charge of negligent driving resulting in injury or death following the May 8, 2022, crash on Route 58 outside Camp Foster.

Siegel was traveling upwards of 55 mph, about 20 mph over the speed limit, on the main thoroughfare in slick conditions when his car jumped the curb and struck Katsuya Ishikawa, 61, of Ginowan.

Judge Takashi Kato sentenced Siegel to 20 months in prison but suspended the sentence for three years, citing Siegel’s remorse and lack of a criminal record. Siegel’s insurance company will pay Ishikawa’s family an undisclosed amount of compensation, Kato said in court.

“You are guilty,” the judge told Siegel. “I advise you to be especially careful for the next three years.”

Siegel was southbound in his white, four-door sedan at approximately 7:30 a.m. when he lost control and struck Ishikawa, and then a guard rail between the sidewalk and Foster’s perimeter fence, Okinawa police said at the time.

Ishikawa was pronounced dead several hours later at Chubu Tokushukai Hospital, Kato said.

The Marine was not on duty at the time, nor had he been drinking, according to police. He was not arrested before being charged.

Prosecutors asked for a maximum 20-month sentence. Siegel’s attorneys asked for a suspended sentence and argued that Siegel, an aviation intelligence specialist with Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 1, was remorseful.

Siegel entered the courtroom Monday afternoon in a black suit and tie and black mask, flanked by his attorney and several Americans. He stood calmly before Kato, who admonished him for accelerating suddenly in slick conditions prior to the crash.

The Marine was also previously ticketed for speeding on base, Kato said.

Repeating the same act is unacceptable, Kato said prior to handing down the sentence. “Your degree of negligence is very big,” he said.

Siegel appeared relieved as he left the courtroom, accompanied by his attorney.

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Keishi Koja is an Okinawa-based reporter/translator who joined Stars and Stripes in August 2022. He studied International Communication at the University of Okinawa and previously worked in education.
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Matthew M. Burke has been reporting from Okinawa for Stars and Stripes since 2014. The Massachusetts native and UMass Amherst alumnus previously covered Sasebo Naval Base and Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, for the newspaper. His work has also appeared in the Boston Globe, Cape Cod Times and other publications.

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