Vandals strike vehicles, homes affiliated with the US military on Okinawa

This undated image from Japanese broadcaster NHK shows vandalism to a car whose owner is affliated with the U.S. military in Okinawa, Japan.


By TYLER HLAVAC | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 21, 2017

A number of U.S. military affiliated vehicles and apartment buildings were vandalized over the weekend, shortly after a fatal vehicle accident involving a Marine and a Japanese national.

Twenty-nine vehicles owned by U.S. personnel were vandalized with paint sometime between Sunday evening and early Monday morning, Okinawa police told Stars and Stripes. Three Y-plated cars at an apartment building in Ginowan City and 26 Y-plated cars in Chatan were vandalized.

“Y” license plates indicate the owner is covered under the status of forces agreement between U.S. and Japan and is in some way linked to the U.S. military.

Some walls at the buildings’ parking lots were also vandalized, said police, who were alerted to the issue by military police at Camp Foster.

The vandalism consisted of dark-blue graffiti spray painted onto walls and vehicles, Okinawa police said. The letter “Y” was painted on vehicles along with a “two-leaf clover” symbol. Police said they are unsure of its meaning.

Okinawa police are investigating the incidents and declined to comment on motive or whether they think U.S. personnel were targeted.

Marine Corps officials told Stars and Stripes they had no information available about the incidents.

Police on the southern island prefecture arrested Lance Cpl. Nicholas James-McLean early Sunday on suspicion of negligent driving resulting in death and driving under the influence of alcohol. A breath test indicated that he had a blood-alcohol level that was three times Japan’s legal limit of 0.03 percent.

A small truck driven by Hidemasa Taira, 61, was making a turn at about 5:30 a.m. at an intersection in Naha when it was hit by an Isuzu Elf driven by James-McLean coming from the opposite direction, the spokesman said. Witness accounts say Taira had the right of way, and that James-McLean may have gone through a red light.

Taira died at local hospital from chest wounds and bleeding suffered in the crash, the spokesman said. James-McLean had minor injuries. Servicemembers on Okinawa must remain confined to their base or homes after liberty restrictions were imposed by U.S. Forces Japan late Sunday. All Japan-based servicemembers are prohibited from purchasing or consuming alcohol on or off base until further notice.

Stars and Stripes reporter Hana Kusumoto contributed to this report.


This undated image from Japanese broadcaster NHK shows graffiti on an apartment building inhabited by U.S. military personnel in Okinawa, Japan.