US-Navy-bans-alcohol-on-bases-in-Japan-after-Okinawa-DUI-case. OKINAWA, Japan, American sailors in Japan starting Monday aren’t allowed to leave their bases and alcohol has been banned after a drunk-driving case on Okinawa.
U.S. Naval Forces Japan acted swiftly after Petty Officer 2nd Class Aimee Mejia, who was assigned to Kadena Air Base on Okinawa, was arrested Saturday after allegedly driving on the wrong side of the road. She hit two cars and injured two people.
The DUI case comes one month after a 20-year-old Japanese woman was found dead along a road on Okinawa. An American contractor, a former U.S. Marine who was working at the U.S. Kadena Air Base on Okinawa, was arrested after indicating that he murdered the woman.
“We have recognized a problem, we’re owning it, and we’re doing everything we 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,” Cmdr. Ronald Flanders, spokesman for U.S. Naval Forces Japan, said.
Those who live off base can travel to and from work, schools, gas stations, grocery stores and gyms.
The travel restrictions will remain in place until all personnel undergo new training from their unit commanders.
Flanders said the ban on drinking alcohol is indefinite.
“These measures are not taken lightly,” said Rear Adm. Matthew Carter, commander of Naval Forces Japan. “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.”
After the murder case, Okinawa personnel had a midnight curfew and no-drinking order off base for 30 days from May 28.
Last month during his trip to Japan, President Barack Obama apologized for the murder of the Japanese woman. Obama said the United States will continue to cooperate fully and will continue to ensure “justice is done under the Japanese legal system.”
In prefectural elections Sunday, candidates who oppose the relocation of a Marine Corps base within Okinawa’s main island took 31 of the 48 seats, according to Kyodo News.
By Allen Cone