Asia Minute: U.S. Navy Bans Alcohol for Sailors on Okinawa

Jun 7, 2016

Protests against the American military bases in Japan.
Credit newsonline / Flickr

The US Navy has imposed a total ban on alcohol for all sailors in Japan. The more than 18-thousand Navy personnel in the country have also been ordered to stay on military bases, following the latest incident involving drinking and destruction. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

This weekend, an American sailor on the island of Okinawa was arrested for drunk driving.  She drove the wrong way on a highway, colliding head-on with two cars and injuring two people.  Kyodo News reports her blood alcohol level was six times Japan’s legal limit.  The crash came during a period when all US military personnel on Okinawa were banned from drinking alcohol anywhere outside a military base.

Less than 3 weeks ago, a US base worker and former Marine was arrested on the island and charged with the rape and murder of a 20 year old Japanese woman…whose body was found stuffed in a suitcase and dumped in the woods.  Last week, a Navy corpsman pleaded guilty to raping a woman in Okinawa’s capital city this spring.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe publicly confronted President Obama about both those cases last month during the G-7 summit.  Crimes involving the US military on Okinawa have outraged Japanese for years….including the infamous 1995 kidnapping and rape of a 12 year old girl by three US servicemen.

Roughly half of the 54,000 US military personnel in Japan are stationed on the island…and authorities are still working on plans to relocate a portion of them.  Local residents are organizing a rally against the U-S military presence on Okinawa for a week from Sunday.