| United States|
The 1996 Padilla car crash involved an American Marine whose car swerved off the road, killing Rojita Kinjo, 36, and her daughters, Mitsuko, 10, and Mariko, 1. The crash happened only a few months after the infamous 1995 Okinawan rape incident where on September 4, 1995, three U.S. servicemen rented a van and then kidnapped and raped a 12-year-old 6th-grade Japanese girl. The Padilla car crash caused an uproar in Okinawa due to raw emotions still left over from the rape incident and the continued American presence on the island chain.
1996 Padilla car crash Wikipedia
Lori Padilla was a Lance Corporal in the United States military. She was serving at an American base in Okinawa. While there she bought a car with one other marine.
The crash occurred on a Sunday, January 7, 1996. At around 1 p.m. on Route 58 at the Kitamae gate to Camp Foster. Okinawa police stated that Padilla abruptly changed lanes and lost control of her car because she was driving too fast. A passenger, Marine Pfc. Carrie Smith, 23, and Padilla were slightly injured but the Kinjo family were all killed. Both driver and passenger were taken to a Navy hospital. This led to much criticism as normal Japanese procedure calls for alcohol testing to rule out alcohol as the cause of the crash. The US military refused to provide access to Padilla or administer a breathalyzer test.
The incident brought to light one of many grievances felt by the Okinawan people towards the US military presence. After the Padilla case, in particular, it was revealed that there are over a thousand car crashes a year involving US military personnel in Okinawa. Beginning in 1997, US soldiers became required to have two forms of car insurance, the Japanese Compulsory Insurance as well as an additional comprehensive insurance.
Padilla was eventually given a two-year jail sentence and the Kinjo family sued Padilla and the co-owner of the car for ¥ 62 million (US$ 580,000 in 1996, US$ 885,691 in 2017) solatium or blood money. The court ruled that the defendants should pay the money but had already left Japan and Padilla had no money or insurance. The American government eventually paid 25 million yen and the Japanese government paid the difference.