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Okinawa nation’s worst hit-and-run accident offender

Date Posted: 2004-01-22

Okinawa, the nation’s number one drunk driving prefecture, has earned yet another dubious number one distinction. A study by the Prefectural Police released this week shows that Okinawa is number one in traffic violations.

Already the worst Japanese prefecture with drinking and driving violations, it now turns out Okinawa also has the worst rate of hit-and-run incidents. What’s worse, according to the report, is that police were able to apprehend only 37 percent of the culprits.

The study states there were 136 hit-and-run incidents in Okinawa last year, the second worst record since Okinawa’s reversion to Japan in 1972. The worst year was 2002, when there were 156 such accidents. That year, police apprehended 39.2 percent of the offenders.

Adding insult to injury was an incident when a former police chief was involved in a hit-and-run incident while driving intoxicated. When apprehended, he explained, “I was afraid that my life would be finished when people realized who I was. I could not think clearly and just wanted to go home and hide.”

That’s exactly the reason most drivers give when questioned. About half of drivers involved in hit-and-run accident have been drinking, and cite fear of embarrassment as the reason why they left the scene of an accident. The second most often cited reason is that they are afraid of being arrested, while the third most common explanation is that they don’t have a valid driving license in the first place. Police records show there have been more than 5,000 traffic accidents in Okinawa over each of the past three years.

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