Navy Bans Booze for All Personnel in Japan

Okinawa crash was the last straw
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 6, 2016 4:42 AM CDT
Navy Bans Booze for All Personnel in Japan
Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani answers a reporter's question about the arrest of an American sailor on suspicion of drunk driving.   (Uncredited)

The US Navy banned drinking and restricted off-base activity Monday for all 18,600 of its personnel in Japan after a sailor was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving on the island of Okinawa, the AP reports. In the latest incident to spark public anger in Japan, Petty Officer 2nd Class Aimee Mejia, 21, assigned to the Kadena base in Okinawa, was arrested Sunday after driving the wrong way on a freeway and smashing head-on into two vehicles, a police spokesman says. Mejia was not hurt, but two people in the other cars were slightly injured, he says. Crimes committed by US forces in Okinawa are highly resented by residents, and US personnel were already under a midnight curfew with off-base drinking banned after the arrest in May of a former US Marine who worked on an American military base in the disappearance of a Japanese woman later found dead.

Under Monday's order, US Navy personnel aren't allowed to drink at all, off or on base, and cannot freely leave the base grounds, except for commuting to an off-base home from work, or for necessary errands such as picking up children or groceries. The order will remain until training is carried out and the military feels comfortable everyone understands "responsible behavior," a Navy statement said. "These measures are not taken lightly," said Rear Adm. Matthew Carter. "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 US-Japan alliance as a whole." (Sunday was a better day for the US Army, which saw one of its members crowned Miss USA.)

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