A Tokyo-based national newspaper published a front-page retraction and apology on Feb. 8 for a story on a reported good Samaritan deed by a U.S. Marine and for accusing two Okinawa newspapers of ignoring it.

The Sankei Shimbun wrote about a Marine in December who reportedly tried to help a Japanese caught in a six-vehicle traffic accident but was injured himself.

At one time, Sankei criticized the two local newspapers for failing to report on the actions of the Marine and said the two papers are "not qualified to call themselves media organizations."

On Feb. 8, Sankei released a statement under the name of Executive Editor Masato Inui.

"Despite excessive expressions directed at The Ryukyu Shimpo and The Okinawa Times, the articles were published without sufficient in-house checking," the retraction and apology said. "We seriously accept this situation. We intend to more thoroughly educate our reporters to prevent a recurrence, review our company structure for the writing of articles and make every effort to improve the reliability of our articles. We express our deepest apologies to those who were involved in the accident, The Ryukyu Shimpo and The Okinawa Times as well as our readers."

Sankei retracted two articles. One was published in its print version and appeared in the morning edition of Dec. 12, 2017, with a headline that said the two Okinawa papers were ignoring the rescue by the U.S. Marine. The other appeared on Dec. 9, 2017, on Sankei's website and touched upon the Dec. 1 traffic accident involving six vehicles.

The article said a U.S. Marine master sergeant based in Okinawa saved a Japanese who was in a crashed car. The Marine was hit by another car and was unconscious and in serious condition.

The article went on to say that the two Okinawa papers did not report the "truth" about the accident and said, "They are shameful as Japanese."

According to the Feb. 8 Sankei retraction as well as the public affairs division of the newspaper, the head of the Naha bureau for Sankei called the U.S. Marines and wrote the article after receiving a response by an official who said the action of saving another driver in need of help is the embodiment of the values of the Marines.

However, the reporter did not call the Okinawa prefectural police, which was investigating the traffic accident.

After The Ryukyu Shimpo and The Okinawa Times ran articles that said Sankei had not sufficiently confirmed the facts behind the alleged incident, additional questions were directed at the U.S. Marines based in Okinawa.

One official said that the first report from the scene was one in which a passenger had been saved but in subsequent reports they were not able to confirm that the saving of the passenger had been carried out to its conclusion.

Sankei officials said consideration would be given about possible disciplinary action toward those involved in the articles under question.

Meanwhile, the managing editors of the two local Okinawa papers praised the action taken by Sankei.

On Feb. 8, Hitoshi Fukuhara of The Ryukyu Shimpo said in a released statement, "I would like to express my respect toward the stance taken by The Sankei Shimbun to properly assess the facts, acknowledge the inadequacy of its reporting and apologize frankly."

Tatsuya Ishikawa of The Okinawa Times also released a statement on Feb. 8 highly evaluating the action taken by Sankei.