Alcohol Forbidden for US Troops in Japan Following Possible DUI Incident

Frederick Owens
November 20, 2017

Okinawa hosts half of the military personnel, according to the official website of the US Forces Japan.

The new restrictions come after a crash Sunday morning in Naha where an Okinawan man was killed when his vehicle was struck by a truck being driven by a Marine.

The Marine was "slightly injured" in the 5:30 a.m. JST crash at a Naha intersection, Okinawa policeman Kazuhiko Miyagi told The Associated Press.

However, Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga appeared unhappy Monday despite the apology and restrictions announced by the US forces.

The last major protests against the USA military presence in Okinawa took place in mid-2016 after a serviceman was sentenced two-and-a-half years of hard labor for raping a Japanese woman that year, while another was charged for the murder and rape of another Okinawan woman.

Lt. Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson, commanding general of Marine Forces Japan, extended his "deepest regret and honest condolences" to the Okinawan man's family.

Service members stationed in mainland Japan also have been prohibited from buying or consuming alcohol, either on or off base.

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All US servicemen stationed in Japan are now banned from drinking, both on and off base, the US Forces in Japan said in a statement.

An "intoxicated" US Marine who was accused of crashing his truck and killing Japanese man, Hidemasa Taira, 61, "had a blood-alcohol content that was three times the legal limit".

Commanders across Japan will immediately lead mandatory training to address responsible alcohol use, risk management and acceptable behavior, the United States statement added. The driver, allegedly a member of the US Marine Corps, was drunk at the moment of the crash and is being questioned. That same year, a U.S. Navy sailor was sentenced after being found guilty of pulling a sleeping woman he found in the hallway of his hotel and raping her.

But crimes by U.S. personnel have been a frequent irritant in relations.

USFJ announced it is now restricting service members on the island to their bases and places of residence due to the incident.

Adm. Harry Harris, the head of the US Pacific Command, told Congress earlier this year the military hopes to reduce the number of Marines in Okinawa to 10,000.

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