TOKYO — An American sailor was arrested Sunday on suspicion of drunken driving causing an accident on Japan's southern island of Okinawa, where public anger has run high over crimes by U.S. military personnel.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Aimee Mejia, 21, assigned to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, was arrested after driving the wrong way on a freeway and smashing head-on into two vehicles late Saturday, said police spokesman Takashi Shirado. Mejia was not hurt, but two people in the other cars were injured, one in the arm and the other in the chest, he said.
The U.S. military said it was cooperating fully with the Japanese investigation.
"We deeply regret this incident and express our heartfelt sympathies for the accident victims and their families. We wish them a fast recovery," Lt. Gen. John Dolan, the commander of U.S. Forces in Japan, said in a statement.
Dolan spoke with U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy and U.S. Pacific Command Commander Adm. Harry Harris, and held an emergency meeting with commanders of the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines, the statement said.
Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida also spoke with Kennedy, and asked the U.S. to do more to prevent a recurrence of the incident, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Kennedy offered her regrets to the families of those injured, the ministry said.
Okinawa is home to more than half of about 50,000 American troops based in Japan. Protests are common on the island, where residents feel they are being forced with an unfair burden of housing the U.S. troops under a bilateral security agreement.
American military personnel are under a midnight curfew and off-base drinking is banned through later this month in Okinawa after a former U.S. Marine who worked on an American military base was arrested after he led police to a woman's body. He is being held on suspicion of abandoning the body, while police investigate.
The suspected murder of the woman was such a critical issue it came up during President Barack Obama's recent visit to Japan. Obama offered his condolences and promised that the U.S. would fully cooperate to have the man prosecuted under Japanese law.
Japan and the U.S. have been working together to relocate a U.S. Marine Corps air station from a densely populated neighborhood in central Okinawa to another part of the island, but the project has repeatedly been delayed. Protesters are demanding that the facility be moved off Okinawa.