Japanese media say the US Navy is investigating several crew members of an aircraft carrier, home-ported in Japan's second-most populous Kanagawa Prefecture, in connection with drug use and trafficking.
The media reports, quoting a US official, said on Thursday the navy was taking the incident seriously and cooperating with Japanese law enforcement authorities. The investigation is said to be in the initial stage.
The USS Ronald Reagan is believed to have departed from its base on Tuesday for a long-term patrolling mission.
In 2018, a US Navy sailor assigned to the same carrier was referred to Japanese prosecutors for smuggling narcotic drugs by international mail.
US troops stationed overseas claim they maintain order in the host countries. However, they place themselves above local laws under the so-called protection of extraterritoriality.
There are 61,000 US soldiers deployed in Japan and 28,000 in neighboring South Korea.
The forces have a long infamous history of unruly behavior and criminal acts in Japan. A large part of the Japanese population demand their withdrawal. In October 2021, a survey of residents conducted by Japan’s public broadcaster NHK showed 26 percent of Japanese respondents called for all US bases to be removed from their island, and another 51 percent wanted them to be reduced to a level equivalent to mainland Japan.
Seventy percent of the American military bases are located in Okinawa. Local police say American soldiers and related personnel stationed there were involved in over 6,000 criminal cases from 1972 to 2020, including nearly 600 cases of homicide, robbery, arson, and rape, not to mention the more than 4,000 deaths and injuries involved in traffic accidents caused by mentioned people.
In 2017, all American military forces in Japan were banned from buying and consuming alcohol following a deadly road crash caused by a drunk US Marine in Okinawa, a tropical island prefecture rife with deep anti-US sentiments.
In April 2016, an American at the Okinawa air base was charged with the murder of a 20-year-old Japanese woman.
Back in 2013, two American sailors admitted to raping a woman in Okinawa a year earlier.
In 1995, the abduction and rape of a 12-year-old girl by three US servicemen triggered massive protests, prompting Washington to pledge efforts to strengthen troop discipline to prevent such crimes.