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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 November 15 - 21  > Only by removing US bases can incidents involving US soldiers be eliminated
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2017 November 15 - 21 [US FORCES]

Only by removing US bases can incidents involving US soldiers be eliminated

November 21, 2017
In response to the fatal drunk-driving accident committed by a U.S. marine in Okinawa’s Naha City, the Headquarters of U.S. Forces Japan on November 20 announced that all U.S. servicemen stationed in Japan will be banned from drinking inside as well as outside bases. However, similar measures taken in the past were found to be ineffective.

In May 2016, the Okinawa police arrested a former U.S. marine on a charge of murdering a 20-year-old Okinawa woman. Following the incident, the U.S. forces in Okinawa imposed a one-month midnight curfew and ban of off-base drinking on all U.S. servicemen. Even with these restrictions, two soldiers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and one injured a local resident. The U.S. military, however, lifted the curfew and drinking ban at the end of June.

Apart from temporary measures issued each time an incident occures, U.S. Forces Japan have been placing on servicemembers of all ranks a prohibition on drinking alcoholic beverages off base between midnight and 5 a.m. On top of that, those who are sergeant first class and below have been barred from leaving bases between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.

Lieutenant General Lawrence D. Nicholson, the top U.S. military officer in Okinawa and the Okinawa Area Coordinator and Commanding General of III Marine Expeditionary Force, on November 16 before the press boasted that U.S. military efforts have resulted in reducing drastically the number of criminal incidents involving military personnel. Just three days later, a U.S. marine was apprehended in an alcohol-related crash that killed a civilian in Okinawa. The arrested man was a low-ranking marine. Given that the accident occurred around 5 a.m., he allegedly violated the 1 a.m.-to-5 a.m. curfew.

In the wake of the fatal accident, American servicemen in Okinawa are obliged to stay on base and at home and placed under a drinking prohibition. In addition, U.S. forces on mainland Japan are banned from drinking and buying alcohol on or off base. Furthermore, all U.S. military-related persons will have to receive an alcohol education program.

Okinawa is home to about 30,000 U.S. troops. Many of the 30,000 servicemembers will be assigned to other locations in one-two years. As to USMC expeditionary unit members, they are deployed to Okinawa in six-month cycles. Under this circumstance, the exercise of thorough discipline in the U.S. forces is hopeless.

The fundamental means to eliminate incidents and accidents involving the U.S. military is to remove all U.S. bases from Japan.

Past related articles:
> US Navy in Japan lifts drinking ban imposed on sailors [June 20, 2016]
> Okinawans protest alleged murder of Japanese woman by ex-US marine [May 21, 2016]
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