US Military Eases Off-Base Drinking Ban in Okinawa, Residents Displeased

© Flickr / unukornoUS military authorities have lifted an off base drinking ban for their servicemen in Okinawa, Japan.
US military authorities have lifted an off base drinking ban for their servicemen in Okinawa, Japan. - Sputnik International
US military officials have lifted the drinking ban, allowing American servicemen to drink alcohol off base during off-duty hours in Okinawa, Japan. Citing numerous incidents involving drunk US soldiers, Okinawa residents seem to be displeased by the decision.

Former mayor of Naha, the capital city of Okinawa prefecture, Takeshi Onaga, (R) hugs his daughter as they celebrate his victory in the Okinawa gubernatorial election in Naha on the Japanese southern islands of Okinawa - Sputnik International
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MOSCOW, December 9 (Sputnik), Ekaterina Blinova — US military authorities have lifted an off base drinking ban for their servicemen in Okinawa, Japan; while the Okinawa Mayor has asked the US Marine Corps' Camp Foster officials to postpone the ruling, citing numerous incidents involving drunk US military.

The Japan Times underscores that the new ruling still prohibits the US military personnel from consuming alcohol from midnight to 5 a.m.

It is worth mentioning that the US military authorities had restricted off-base nighttime movements for the service members after two American soldiers raped a Japanese woman in Okinawa Prefecture in October 2012. However, in February 2013, high-ranking officers were allowed to leave the base at nighttime, but were still banned from drinking alcohol. Currently, US military personnel are officially permitted to drink up to two bottles of beer at off-base bars between 6 pm and 10 pm. Unfortunately the ban has not prevented US soldiers from committing crimes linked to drinking.

Former Naha Mayor Takeshi Onaga (C) performs an Okinawa folk dance at his election campaign office in Naha on Nov. 16, 2014. - Sputnik International
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"Just last Saturday, two US servicemen were arrested on suspicion of drunk driving, and two days before that a US Marine Corps serviceman was suspected of being involved in a hit-and-run accident in Okinawa City," the Japan Times reports.

Although the US military authorities claim they "will continue our utmost efforts to prevent incidents and accidents," the Okinawa residents are likely to protest against the ban easing, notes the Japanese media source.

On Monday, December 9, Okinawa Mayor Sachio Kuwae met with the US Marine Corps' Camp Forster officials and asked to postpone the decision to ease the ban, referring to ongoing incidents involving drunk US military servicemen.

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