Starting on June 6, the US Navy will ban alcohol for its sailors in Japan. This was after an American sailor was involved in a drunk driving incident that hurt two people.
21-year-old Petty Officer 2nd Class Aimee Mejia was driving on the wrong freeway in Okinawa. The drunk officer crashed into two cars, reports Takashi Shirado to the Associated Press.
Before that, Okinawa residents were outraged after an alleged American civilian working for the American military was accused of dumping a dead body of a 20-year-old Japanese female. The military observed a 30-day mourning period in response.
In 1995, a US military officer was accused of raping a Japanese schoolgirl causing Japanese outrage.
The series of events fanned the desire of Okinawa residents to cast off the US military presence and transfer the entire Futenma airbase to a more remote Okinawa area. Officials, especially the governor, want the marines to leave the islands.
The American Naval Force commander in Japan, Rear Admiral Matthew Carter, said that controlling the sailors is important to maintain a smooth sailing relation between Japan and the US. The measures will be strictly implemented off-base and on-base, Carter said in a statement.
The measure will remain until face-to-face unit commanding heads, executive personnel, and command master chiefs implement training to all American sailors. The personnel should understand the full impact of having a responsible behavior on the US-Japan alliance.
Top officials will be the one who will review the ongoing training. Reuters estimates 18,600 American sailors in the Asian country. It will affect even transient sailors, and American units in the country for temporary duty.
The ban however, does not apply to kin living in the country and American civilians working for the military, which is about 35,000. They are encouraged thought to observe the rules "in a spirit of solidarity."