Okinawa files protest over hit-and-run allegedly involving U.S. Marine


Okinawa files protest over hit-and-run allegedly involving U.S. Marine

by: Matthew M. Burke and Chiyomi Sumida | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: December 18, 2014

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The Okinawa city assembly filed a protest this week with the U.S. government over this month’s hit-and-run incident that allegedly involved a Marine Corps major and left a 67-year-old Okinawa man critically injured.

Maj. John Jeonghoon Ahn, 40, has admitted to striking Seiki Kamimura’s moped while traveling on Highway 75 north at around 5 a.m. Dec. 4, according to police. He said he fled the scene out of fear, police said.

Kamimura regained consciousness Monday but is still listed in critical condition, police said. The case has not been referred to the Naha public prosecutor’s office, and Ahn remains in U.S. military custody pending charges.

The assembly voted unanimously Tuesday to lodge the protest with U.S. officials including U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and the commander of U.S. Forces Japan, Lt. Gen. Sam Angelella.

“A hit-and-run, which is an atrocious mean-spirited act, is absolutely unacceptable,” the resolution said. “The suspect was identified as a major, who was in a leadership position, which adds to the mistrust of people of Okinawa to the military.”

The protest resolution called for a prompt apology and full restitution to the victim as well as a “thorough education and tighter discipline” for U.S. servicemembers.

Marine Corps officials said they were taking the incident seriously and were committed to being good neighbors and citizens in the communities in Japan where they live and work.

“Our prayers are that the injured has a quick and complete recovery and we offer our condolences to the family,” a Marine Corps statement on Dec. 11 said. “Every service member is continually reminded through leadership and education programs that they are representatives of the U.S. and have a personal responsibility to behave with honor and to treat everyone with respect and dignity.”