Prosecutors, not police, decide formal charges under the Japanese justice system.

Prosecutors, not police, decide formal charges under the Japanese justice system. (Pexels)

A Japanese court on Friday sentenced an Okinawa-based Marine to a one-year suspended sentence for a drunken driving collision over the summer.

Naha District Court Judge Tetsuro Sato found Cpl. Mike Moncoeur, 22, of Camp Schwab, guilty of negligent driving resulting in injury and driving under the influence, a district court spokesman said by phone Friday.

Sato sentenced Moncoeur immediately to a year in prison with hard labor but suspended the sentence for three years, the spokesman said.

Some government spokespeople in Japan are required to speak to the media only on condition of anonymity.

Moncoeur will not serve the prison term if he commits no further offenses in Japan.

Moncoeur was drowsy and intoxicated while driving northbound at on Route 224 in Okinawa city at 6:47 a.m. Aug. 12, according to a summary of the indictment.

He dozed off but continued driving another 200 feet, strayed into the opposing lane and collided with an oncoming vehicle, according to the indictment. The other driver, age 54, suffered a broken rib.

A breath test at the scene measured Moncoeur’s blood-alcohol content at 0.12%, four times Japan’s legal limit, an Okinawa prefectural police spokesman said in August. By comparison the legal limit for driving under the influence in the United States is 0.08%.

Moncoeur was not seriously injured, according to police.

A spokesperson for III Marine Expeditionary Force did not immediately respond Friday afternoon to an email seeking further information.

After Moncoeur’s arrest in August, III MEF spokesman Capt. Brett Dornhege-Lazaroff said, “The alleged behavior does not reflect the core values of the U.S. Marine Corps, nor does it represent the conduct of the vast majority of Okinawa-based Marines.”

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Hana Kusumoto is a reporter/translator who has been covering local authorities in Japan since 2002. She was born in Nagoya, Japan, and lived in Australia and Illinois growing up. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and previously worked for the Christian Science Monitor’s Tokyo bureau.
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Jonathan Snyder is a reporter at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan. Most of his career was spent as an aerial combat photojournalist with the 3rd Combat Camera Squadron at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. He is also a Syracuse Military Photojournalism Program and Eddie Adams Workshop alumnus.

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