A U.S. Navy sailors drinking ban in Japan has been imposed after an incident on the southern island of Okinawa on Monday.
Reuters reports that the Navy put a ban on alcohol consumption by sailors after one of them allegedly got into an automobile accident that caused injuries to other people. As a result, the U.S. Navy slapped a drinking ban on sailors stationed in Japan that day, and pulled off-base liberty after police arrested a U.S. sailor on suspicion of drunk driving after she crashed a car that hurt two people.
— ABC7 Eyewitness News (@ABC7) June 6, 2016
The Business Standard reports that the sailor arrested in Monday’s accident is Petty Officer 2nd Class Aimee Mejia, 21. She’s assigned to the Kadena Air Base on Okinawa. Mejia was driving the wrong direction on a freeway and crashed into two vehicles late Saturday, a police spokesman said.
Rear Admiral Matthew Carter, commander of U.S. naval forces in Japan, issued a press release on Monday.
“For decades we have enjoyed a strong relationship with the people of Japan. It is imperative that each sailor understand how our actions affect that relationship and the U.S. Japan alliance as a whole,” Carter said.
The timing of this incident places even more emphasis on a 30-day mourning period in Okinawa observed by the U.S. military after the death of a 20-year-old Japanese woman. An American civilian working for the U.S. military at the island was arrested on suspicion of dumping her body. This has made residents in Okinawa enraged at the U.S. military presence even further. It’s even threatening a plan to relocate the U.S. Marines’ Futenma air base to a section of Okinawa that has less population. This was agreed to in 1995 after the rape of a Japanese schoolgirl by U.S. military personnel. That crime erupted in enormous anti-base demonstrations. Okinawa’s governor — as well as many residents — no longer want U.S. military on the island.
The Business Standard reports that the attacker plead guilty to the rape.
According to the report, the United States has 18,600 sailors stationed in Japan.
It’s been declared in the press release that all U.S. Navy sailors in Japan will remain on base and banned from drinking until “all personnel understand the impact of responsible behavior on the U.S.-Japan alliance. Sailors living off-base will be allowed to travel to and from base and conduct only ‘essential activities.’ “
— The Atlantic (@TheAtlantic) June 6, 2016
Exemptions to the liberty ban are family members and civilian U.S. contractors, which tallies the total number of service personnel to 35,000. Those individuals are being encouraged to observe the rules “in a spirit of solidarity,” a spokesman for the U.S. Navy said.
Sailors who live off-base will be allowed to travel to and from work, schools, gas stations, grocery stores, and the gym. Activities outside of those specifications are prohibited by the order and subject to military law.
Ronald Flanders, spokesman for Naval Forces Japan, expressed in the press release following the ban on sailor drinking in Japan that the U.S. Navy has “recognized a problem” and is “owning it.” He added that they’re doing everything they can to “ensure that every one of our sailors understands how important our behavior is to the alliance and to our relationship to the people of Japan.”
Stars and Stripes reports that the misconduct of Navy personnel is taking up too much time of senior military officials. The ban on drinking and liberty for sailors in Japan will remain in effect until executive officers, commanders, and enlisted leaders have face-to-face training with all service members.
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