Marine barricaded in Camp Lester in Okinawa: possibly carried rifle in civilian district

November 7, 2014 Ryukyu Shimpo

On October 30, a marine barricaded himself with a rifle in housing area of Camp Lester in Chatan, setting off a standoff with military police. There is a high possibility the marine moved in the civilian district outside of the base, carrying an M-16 rifle.

Marine Corps officials explained to Chatan Town on November 5 the marine had brought the firearm from another base in Okinawa.

If military servicemen carry firearms off duty and walk around civilian districts, they will be investigated by Japanese judicial police and could be charged with a violation of the Firearm Control Law. However, the marine is in the custody of the U.S military as the standoff occurred within the base. It is unclear whether or not the Okinawa Prefectural Police can charge the marine with a violation of the Firearm Control Law.

According to Chatan Town, the marine brought the rifle from Camp Foster, and possibly went through the civilian district before coming back to Camp Lester. As of November 6, the U.S. military had not disclosed the details such as the gender of the marine. They stated that they were continuing to investigate how the marine got the firearm.

According to Ministry of Justice records regarding the jurisdiction of crimes committed by the U.S. military servicemen, Japanese judicial police officers are able to investigate cases that conflict with Japanese law regardless of the U.S. having the primary right to exercise jurisdiction.

Kazunori Inoue, the head of the Okinawa Defense Bureau, held a press conference in Kadena on November 6. Inoue said the bureau was investigating the possibility the marine went through a civilian district, carrying the firearm.

Chatan Mayor Masaharu Noguni said, “The incident could have brought great danger to the local citizens, depending on the mental condition and motivation of the marine. I am really worried about what happened because no details were disclosed. I would like the U.S military to disclose the information swiftly.”

Attorney Toshio Ikemiyagi who is knowledgeable about crimes committed by the U.S military servicemen, said, “There is a possibility the marine could have fired the rifle, killing or injuring local citizens. The Okinawa Prefectural Police should strongly urge the military to control this kind of case and explain the details of the incident.”

(English translation by T&CT)

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