Off-base drinking ban for US troops in Okinawa
TOKYO, Japan - US troops in Okinawa, southern Japan, have been banned from drinking off base following a spate of crimes including the alleged rape of a local woman, a report said Sunday, December 2.
Alcohol is off limits for all US military personnel at any hour of the day or night at restaurants and friends' homes anywhere other than on their base, Kyodo News quoted US military officials as saying.
The only exception is drinking in their own homes.
Bases are also officially dry between 10 pm and 8 am, Kyodo quoted the officials as saying.
US military authorities will conduct snap inspections of those leaving base after sunset to prevent them from going out under the influence of alcohol, Kyodo said.
The US military in Japan imposed an 11 pm to 5 am curfew on all its servicemen in Japan after two US navy sailors were arrested on charges of raping a woman on the main Okinawan island in October.
Despite the curfew, misconduct involving US servicemen has continued fuelling anti-US military sentiment in Okinawa, including trespassing incidents involving an airman and a marine under the influence of alcohol and drunk-driving by another marine.
The US military command in Japan has also ordered all military personnel in the country not to go off base alone.
The order in principle requires all military personnel in Japan to be accompanied by someone -- such as a colleague or family member -- when they leave US bases outside the curfew hours.
Washington sees Okinawa as a vital strategic stronghold in the region, but islanders are fed up with shouldering what they say is a disproportionate burden for the Japan-US relationship.
The incidents also come amid swelling protests over the deployment of Osprey aircraft, with locals voicing concerns about the plane's perceived poor safety record.
In 1995, the gang rape of a 12-year-old Okinawan girl by US servicemen sparked mass protests resulting in a US-Japan agreement to reduce the huge US military presence on the Okinawan chain. - Agence France-Presse